Manage Competing Priorities

In Learning Network by Jamie Mierau

Last month, we asked the Learning Network, what is your biggest challenge? You told us managing competing priorities. We heard the same challenges during our recent “Find Your Focus” webinar.

For example, Stacey said that “being responsive to staff about things that are important to them but are low value add to my organization overall” is a big challenge.

To effectively manage competing priorities, you must define your imperatives.

Define your imperatives

Imperatives are the most critical pieces of your work. They are the things you must do or all else falls apart. To define your imperatives, use the resources you have available. This could include your organization’s strategic plan, program plan, individual work plan, etc. Don’t wait for the perfect plan or clear guidance from your boss. Use what is available to you. Set a goal and start short-term (3 months).

Circle of Concern Graphic

Get clear on your what is within your circle of control (not the things that concern you but the things you have control over). Check out Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People for more on the circles of concern and influence.

Turn your imperatives into action

Once you know your imperatives, turn them into specific tasks and actionable items. Use them to motivate you and your team and to get the support you need. Figure out what it’s going to take, monitor your progress, and adapt as needed. Know and play to your strengths.

Knowing your imperatives and turning them into action will go a long way in managing competing priorities. In fact, what you’ll likely find is that some competing priorities may not be priorities at all.

Use this worksheet – Section 2 – Define and Use Worksheet to help you define your imperatives and turn your focus into action.