Work Priorities: Where Can You Spend Your Time Most Effectively?

By: John Robertson

Understanding where you can spend time most effectively requires concentration in three areas:

  1. Doing what you enjoy

  2. Concentrating on your strengths

  3. Understanding Job Excellence

Let's start with doing what you enjoy. Your quality of life is in many ways dependant on how much (or little) you enjoy your job. While every job has aspects that you may not enjoy as much as others, overall your job satisfaction should be high. The higher your job enjoyment, the more effectively you will be in getting things done.

If you are working in a job that you don't enjoy, you have two choices. The first is to minimize those things you don't care for. This does not mean you no longer do them, but you look for the positive things about those individual components you don't like. Over time you should be able to reduce the number of negatives and increase the positive aspects. This will automatically increase job enjoyment.

If you are certain you will never be able to enjoy your job, it's time to consider option 2, changing jobs. This is a drastic measure and should not be done without careful thought. However studies continually show that people who do make a decision to change from jobs they don't enjoy to jobs they like almost immediately experience a better life with less stress.

Second, concentrate on your strengths.

It is important to recognize where both your strengths (talents) and weaknesses are. Some people successfully use a matrix commonly called SWOT.

The SWOT technique is a helpful matrix that helps you understand where your Strengths, Weakness, Opportunities, and Threats are.

For your "STRENGTHS" list only what you believe your strengths are but also include what others think your strengths are. Include the available resources that you use to your advantage and those activities you do well.

"WEAKNESSES" are areas you and others around would identify as areas where you are not as strong. Things that take you away from productive activity may be considered a weakness if they interfere with your goal.

"OPPORTUNITIES" are areas where you see a trend changing that may affect your goal. Don't forget to look at technology and changing demographics when working in this dimension.

"THREATS" are considered to be the specific obstacles that you currently face. Those obstacles can range from cash flow to technology. Look for anything that may detrimentally affect the way you do things now.

By analyzing the completed SWOT matrix you may be surprised as to the areas you can focus on to reach your business goals.

The third focus in setting your work priorities is to become an expert at your job. Being an expert is going beyond academics and entering into the real world of your business. Keeping up with trends, competitors, market and demographic changes are critical areas where you should strive to be regarded as an expert.

In addition you need a plan to keep on top of your field. You must learn to make and keep good goals that are complementary with your company's growth.

This requires that your goal and the goals of your department be in total sync. Set a meeting with your manager, make sure you both are in agreement and the goals you are setting are the same, or are a part of, the department goals. The department goals should be the same as the company goals.

Here are some good questions to get clear answers on that will help you set priorities:

  • What is the purpose of this job?

  • How am I measured for success?

  • What does exceptional performance look like?

  • What are the specific priorities and deadlines?

  • What resources are available?

  • What is your budget?

  • How does what you do relate to other people?

Carefully consider this time of year to get a fresh start on the fall and your sanity at the same time. After all, it may not be Time Management that is keeping you from accomplishing everything you think you need to do. It may be doing what you enjoy and concentrating on your strengths.

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