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A simple method to manage your priorities at the office and at home, with some good tips from our business coach that you can start putting into practice right now!

The Bossman is coming dangerously close to your desk this morning, and your ‘to do list’ is already as long as a shopping receipt from Sainsbury’s….Yikes, you’re going to have to say no!

Here is a simple method that our business coach Veronica advises to respond to requests from your superiors. Like every other method for managing priorities it can also be applied at home, even if of course your children are nothing like your boss (although!).

It is about evaluating the time that the requested task will take.

If the task takes less than 2 minutes: do it immediately, because the time you will lose quibbling about the subject with your manager will greatly outweigh the 2 minutes it will take you to do it.

On the other hand, if you consider that these requests are becoming too regular and that they are not urgent, it is worth discussing the matter to establish a time frame for delivery so that you can group them together and be more efficient.

Annie, who is an executive assistant, has taken to asking her boss “Now?”: “My job is full of 2 minute requests and this allows me to know whether I should do it right away. We came to an agreement; he knows that I am not questioning the validity of his request, but that I do it to be better organised.  Over time, I have come to know what is urgent, but it was very practical at the beginning”.

If the task takes less than 20 minutes: do it as soon as you have finished whatever you are currently busy with. And say it in a positive manner: “Fine, I’ll finish what I’m doing and then take care of it / I’ll take care of it next”.

If the task takes 2 hours: you are going to have to ask to revise your priorities for the day. To do this, the first thing to ask is the time frame. If the task has to be done the same day, you are not going to be able to do everything, so you need to immediately make a proposal to reorganise your day or widen the time frame.

Suggesting the alternative yourself is a good way to show that you are in control of the situation “No problem prioritising File A, however I won’t be able to send you File B until tomorrow, but it’s not as urgent. Is that okay with you, or the other way round?”

If the task takes 2 days:  this makes it a new project, and the best way to approach it is to talk about it with your boss. In the same way, welcome the new task in a positive but realistic manner: “I have looked at Subject A and I think it will need two to three days of work. Can we revise my priorities together to be sure that we are on the same page about what is important to get done this month?”


Thanks to Veronica, our business coach.

We like the way she gives us a positive but firm attitude towards the Boss!

The method (2 minutes/20 minutes…you get the idea) can also be applied at home.

Some examples:  2 minutes – I’ll help you make a knot in this string, 20 minutes – I’ll draw with you when I have finished putting the ironing away, 2 hours – if we build a fort, we won’t have time to bake a cake, so which do you prefer? For two days, we couldn’t find one with the children, but we could with the hubby – if we go away for the weekend together, I won’t get on with my accounts, so I will have to spend time on that next weekend and you will have to look after the children….OK? OK!

So, managing your priorities and communicating effectively can work! …. In any case, it’s always better than complaining!

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