For most everyone in business there is far too much to do and too much information to reasonably digest. Both suppliers and shops generate and receive an overwhelming amount of information daily. There is always the latest innovation, critical concern or alarming piece of information.
If that first paragraph sounds familiar, it is from a previous article “Avoid Rabbit Holes,” and this article follows along similar lines. With all the changes and the avalanche of information and things that need to be done or improved or implemented etc. There is simply too much to do for most of us mere mortals to get done. There still needs to be ways or methods to get all the important things addressed.
Managing and prioritizing our time seem to be a critical consideration every day. The old rule of A, B and C priorities still works, where the A priorities are those things on your written list, that absolutely need to get done. The B items are things you want to get done but might be done (at least partially by others) and the C are on your list would be nice to get done but are not mission critical.
Taking the ABC priority list a little further along with a little introspective, we need to face the fact that despite how great of multi-taskers we all think we are, there is a limit to how many things we can be working on at the same time. Priority tasks need priority time. Limiting your priorities to three each day not only provides quality time, but it still allows for the inevitable flow of interruptions that pry their way into our day.
Focusing on three improvements may be even more important for making progress with improvements in the body shop environment. With all the changes in materials, methods, training needs, technology etc. Improvements can seem over whelming. Breaking them down into bite size pieces and strategically working on the highest priorities first we are much more likely to get more things done.
In the morning when you’re reviewing (and maybe adjusting) your written A-B-C tasks for the day consider this. Pick the top three A priorities and focus on them. Dedicating yourself to those top three is the most likely way to insure you make the most progress possible.
Why three? Some of us believe we are great multi-taskers or jugglers and can easily handle more than three “A” priorities at any given time. Well maybe, but this is not true for most mere mortals. Our main job as a business leader is to communicate with co-workers, business allies, subordinates and customers. Our audience will most always be able to hear, remember and act on three tasks or concepts. Consider how often the rule of three shows up in memorable ways throughout of lives.
Thomas Jefferson used the rule of three when he wrote; that every American had an inalienable right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Steve Jobs applied the rule of three in his presentations, three models, three core devices etc. Lisa B. Marshall states “The rule of three is a very general rule in speaking, in writing, and in music, that states that concepts or ideas presented in threes are inherently more interesting, more enjoyable, and more memorable.”
Brian Tracy speaking about Time Management suggests asking yourself three “Magic Questions”:
- “If I could only do one thing on this list, all day long, which one activity would contribute the greatest value to my business?
- “If I could only do two things on this list, all day long what would be the second activity that would make the greatest contribution to my business?”
- “If I could only do three things on this list, all day long what would be the third activity that would contribute the most value to my business?”
J. D. Meier from the book “Getting Results the Agile Way” the rule is simple:
- “First, write down three things you want to accomplish today.”
- “Second, write three things you want to accomplish this week.”
- “Third, write three things you want to achieve this year.”
In my opinion a manager with three priorities is likely to make progress on three priorities. A manager with ten priorities is not likely to make significant progress on any of them.
We have all likely attended NACE, SEMA, and other industry events for years, often taking pages of notes at meetings training sessions and presentations. Upon getting back to work, we are often pumped up and want to start projects make changes and grow our businesses and improve our work life and work culture. Remembering the rule of three can enhance the experience by adding a some select items to our to do lists, adding them to our A, B and C priorities and then evaluate them along with other priorities. They may or may not be among your top three priorities on the fist day, or even the first week. But by adding them to your written lists they become goals not just ideas.
Any one talking about Prioritizing and Time Management, will surely agree that the act of writing these down takes ideas and makes them actionable goals. Your priorities will evolve, you may adjust each day’s priorities, please consider the rule of three as a tool to help get the most progress on your priorities every day.
As a leader or manager, the time management and priorities that you utilize will set the pace, set the example and set goals for your staff. Communicating your time management and utilizing the rule of 3 provides a clear measurable tool for you staff.
Those other A and those B priorities may need a little effort as well, consider relegating those to other members of your team, at the least your have some help, get some additional insight and quite possibly raise someone self-value and awareness of their potential contribution.
Don’t spend any time on the C priorities. Delegate these to others where ever possible. The rest of these C priorities will either go away or they will move themselves up to B priorities.
As always, your thoughts and comments are welcome.