Are you running out of time?

Demands on time come from multiple directions

Everyone in business has multiple demands on their time. Everyone has a high-priority issue that needs to be resolved immediately and cannot wait any longer. Jim Rohn, a successful entrepreneur, had the expression: “Either you run the day or the day runs you.”

As a person who has been involved in multiple complex projects, prioritization of these demands is essential. For example, in my role as product manager, there were many departments, groups and individuals that I needed to communicate, coach and collaborate with on the direction of the product strategy. Groups that were associated with the product release process included:

• The Executive Team
• Marketing
• Sales/Sales Support
• Systems Engineering
• Product Development/Engineering
• Program Management
• Contracts
• Finance
• Professional Services
• Training
• Customer Service

As the “CEO” of the product, it is easy to see how these groups would want your time and attention. Therefore, a critical skill to be successful is being able to organize your work tasks and prioritize them so that ongoing efforts to product GA are completed.

Everyone has different ways to organize their day but one of my coaches early in my career told me his method and it as has worked well. It was his TTD, or “Things-To-Do” list. It sounds simple but it works. The key was his ability to prioritize his list by asking key questions about each task and ranking the tasks accordingly. Some of the questions included:

1. Is the task directly tied to revenue?
2. When is the item due?
3. Who is it for?
4. What is the level of importance?
5. What is the estimated effort?

The list of questions above is certainly not a complete list. To use this method effectively, each person will need to make their own set of questions to assess their TTD list. Once the questions are completed and the list is prioritized, it is recommended to review the list each morning and/or at the end of each day. This is because there may be new information to influence the order of ranking, or more likely, there are new items to add and prioritize.

The reason this method works for me is that it gives me a clear focus on the highest priority items that need to be accomplished.

Corner Office Wisdom:
Each person is different and needs to determine what methods will work to make them successful. Using a TTD list has been a simple and effective tool that has aided my success.

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About Tim DeWitt

An experience business executive, speaker and writer with a background in marketing, product management, professional services and software engineering.

3 responses to “Are you running out of time?”

  1. John says :

    Great suggestion Tim. We will put it to use in our business management.

  2. James Rafferty says :

    Hi Tim. I’ve also found to-do lists are helpful for organizing activities such as product management. However, this is a left brain approach and it’s useful to sometimes mix in a right-brain, intuitive approach. One of my favorite managers once suggested that I work on becoming a more intuitive manager and I found this advice helped me break through and pursue some game changing strategies, both for that company and later on.

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