Work Prioritization Part 2:  Heightened Efficiency

Work Prioritization Part 2: Heightened Efficiency

August 5, 2015
Business Skills

By RDBA Executive Director, Annette Maggi, MS, RDN, LD, FAND

In last week’s Part 1 on Work Prioritization, four types of work were defined based on their urgency and importance. Readers were encouraged to track their work over the past week and assign it to one of four buckets: important and urgent, important but not urgent, urgent but not important, and not important, not urgent. Once you had a chance to tally your numbers, what did you find?

If you’re lucky, the majority of your work falls into the important and urgent or important but not urgent category. This means that your time is focused where it should be, your productivity is high and you’re significantly contributing to your company’s goals. But we all have room for improvement, and if your numbers weren’t where you’d like them to be, there are a variety of steps you can follow to maintain a daily focus on important work.

The first step in work prioritizing is to ensure you understand the priorities. Even if you lead a team or are an RD team of one, it’s essential to understand the business objectives of your company and division and the main concerns of your internal partners. Grill your manager to truly clarify what’s most important of all the projects on your plate. Set up time to meet with partners to understand their business focus on and how they’d like you involved.  

As you develop this project ranking, work backwards in developing a timeline and assessing the time required for each item. Start with the due dates, take into account how much effort you need to put into each one and how much input you need from others, and work backwards to find out what you should be working on right now. Taking this approach will ensure you don’t overcommit and that you can allocate the necessary resources to each program.

Next, create your recommended prioritization and rationale, and confirm with your leadership to ensure you have buy-in. Then communicate to all partners so they understand where they fall within your plan and have a clear expectation of your role and availability.  

In the life of a retail dietitian nutritionist, the priorities can shift frequently. Some tips for ensuring you’re focused on important work on a daily and weekly basis include:

  • Review your work load frequently. If one task continues to show up on the bottom of your pile, consider whether or not it’s truly important. If it is, consider delegating it or reprioritizing it. If a new project comes through that is important and urgent, ensure management and partners understand the shift in priority.
  • Allow time for interruptions. You know they’re going to happen, so plan time into your daily and weekly schedule to prevent interruptions from derailing from your high priority projects.
  • Avoid multitasking. We’re all driven to do it, but the reality is that none of the work gets your undivided attention when you multitask. Focusing on one project at a time while ensure it is done more quickly and well.
  • Structure your workload. Plan meaningful chunks of time to work on a project. Continually picking up and putting down work doesn’t lead to quality results. Additionally, your mind might be still focused on one task when you move onto the next.  
  • Don’t be tied to your Inbox. If you get 50 emails per day, this is 50 interruptions. Avoid checking your inbox every time you get a message, and switch off alerts on your computer that signal a new message. Plan specific times of the day when you will review and respond to emails.  

Finally, consider posting this quote near your work station as a reminder of the importance of work prioritization:

It’s not so much how busy you are, but why you are busy. The bee is praised. The mosquito is swatted. --Mary O’Connor