- How to say "no"
- How to prioritize the critical from the "nice-to-haves"
- That sometimes good enough is the best you can manage
Good enough comes from recognizing that in many cases, especially in project management and business development, getting something out there, even if it wasn't perfect was better than getting nothing out there because it wasn't perfect. This is tough on perfectionists (of which I am not). This trait is probably why I'm a pretty good general manager, business development person, and troubleshooter, and was at best a mediocre engineer, would starve as a designer, and is a good thing for society that I'm not a surgeon.
With respect to prioritizing tasks, the best framework I ever learned was from Stephen Covey's Seven Habits. Specifically:
- Important and urgent tasks: Do them. But first ask, am I the only person who can do these (by virtue of my position or special skills) or can they be done by someone else (even if I can do them better)? If the former: do them. If the latter: train and delegate!
- Important but not urgent tasks: Schedule time for them or they don't happen. Interestingly, these are usually the tasks that allow me to get rid of the next set which are...
- Urgent but unimportant tasks: See step 2 above. These are usually candidates for delegation or outsourcing.
- Unimportant and not urgent tasks: I.e. time wasters. Will playing Angry Birds for the 12th time really change my life?
But even with this framework, there are times when the task load ramps to the point where clearing through category 1 tasks takes all my time. So be it; such is life.
Hows that for rationalizing why my blogging has been erratic lately?