How to Prioritize Tasks and Get More Work Done

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How to Prioritize Tasks and Get More Work Done

As a business owner, it’s difficult to do the right work AND guide your company toward its next big initiative.

With Red Direction Business Base Camp, learn how to implement and handle processes to meet your business’s specific needs and better understand your market.

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Starting the conversation:

Start with these three elements: your Present Retreat™, one 24+month initiative, and to recognize when productivity optimization has become busy work. The reality of the world you and your teams inhabit influences the ability of the business to be productive. There’s always the danger of falling into the trap where our lives outside of work direct the work we do.

With small tweaks, you can provide clarity, hold the direction, and guide the planned and unplanned work. Shift to the next level of productivity by changing your thoughts and actions about strategy. Listen to how your selected initiatives can create momentum to stay moving in the right direction and achieve successes along the way. Jess Dewell, your host of BOLD Business Podcast, shares results from the 2022 Business Management Report and what you can do right now to optimize your results.

How do we make more time to do the right work, right now?

Host: Jess Dewell

What You Will Hear:

You are always looking for ways to make more time.

Take a close look at how you manage your time.

Shift what productivity means, change your results.

Two ways you disguise busy work as productivity.

Increase productivity by establishing your own Present Retreat™

Creative, innovative, strategic work is shrouded in ambiguity.

The skill of reflection builds adaptability and flexibility.

The practice of creating clear messaging allows others to ask better questions and more quickly know what to do.

Emotions, past experience (reflections), and your SWOT are elements to solid decision making.

The top 2 initiatives for companies this year: strategy + execution and communication + leadership. (Download the 2022 Business Management Report here.)


Welcome. This is the Bold Business Podcast. Your business has many directions it can travel. The one true direction of your company creates the journey for you to move toward a new, exciting level. We call this the Red Direction. In today’s program, we delve into one idea. The idea will support you as you work on ever-present situations, including how to stay competitive in a changing market, how to break through the business plateau, and how to anticipate the changing expectations of your stakeholders. Jess Dewell is your guide. Jess brings you a 20-year track record of business excellence, where strategy and operations overlap. Your Path comes from consistently working from the special place. Your unique True North. Now, here’s Jess.

Jess Dewell 00:51
I’m just doing your hosting Guess what? Guess what today is his like every other day. And it is unlike every other day because it has never happened before. So while I woke up while I’ve had my breakfast, while I’m getting into the swing of things as you are doing the same, and different parts of your day, there is a little bit of a routine here, there is an expectation of what happens when we get to our day that has never happened yet. And we’re talking about productivity. today. We’re talking about optimizing our time because I know you if you’re like me, we’re always looking for ways to get more time. And so how do we do that? What does that mean? And maybe we can shift our thinking just a little bit. That’s what we’re going to be talking about today in the live program. So here’s the deal. We are live on LinkedIn, we are live on Twitter, and we are live on YouTube. So wherever you are tuning in, and for those of you listening to this in the podcast feed, mark your calendars go home, look, let’s see what’s going on. So you can join in the conversation in, in the live moment as well as after the moment. When you’re doing your part of your routine part of the day where you’re improving yourself, you’re taking time to listen to other people, you’re taking time to learn and see what’s out there, you are taking the time to invest in yourself in a new and different way. Now here’s the deal. Red Direction gives away a ton of content for free. Like this podcast, we also have programs like the Fast Track Your Business program, like strategy Intensive Days, like other things, too, that are not are escaping me, but you can find them at Red Direction calm.

The point being is you will get so much value here that you will take something away from this program. And it is so valuable that if you ever want to go deeper, if you ever want more, just reach out to us Red Direction, calm and find out what the next best step might be for you to continue moving toward your goals, your strategy enactment, the engagement and how you show up to actually get results to go with the work that you’re doing. Now one of the things that I think is really important to think about and where this topic has come from is the conversations that I’m having with clients and peers today. The last 45 days have really been about, I don’t know how to manage my time, I’m being pulled in a lot of different directions, I don’t understand what is the most important. And these are people like you that have a plan that know where they’re going, that actually have goals and tasks that are helping them move toward those bigger goals. Yet, we still have this feeling of I could be doing more, and I’m not doing enough, and maybe a whole bunch of other things in that particular container. But we’ve got to take that particular container, we’ve got to set it aside. We want to set it aside specifically because it is important for us to recognize and think about productivity in an, in a new way. Now most of us think of UI productivity, let’s do more in less time, what can I delegate and get off of my plate? How do I do all of these different things so that I can get more time? Well, I’m not sure if any of you have experienced this. But the more that you do any of those things, the more you’re managing those things to get you more time. That is actually something that we have to think about that we have to recognize that the more we put into place to optimize our time, the more we’re managing those things. And at some point, even the management of those processes gets grindy. And when that stuff gets grindy it makes everything else harder makes everything else less exciting. It makes everything else slow down quicker. And the reason it might get grindy is because we’re not getting results. Well, why wouldn’t we be getting results we’ve optimized our time we’ve time blocked our day we are dedicated and focus into here’s what we’re going to do when and that’s a really good discipline to have yet at the same point in time. One of the things I notice is that As you’re working with that, it becomes all about getting things done. And the focus on getting things done is busy in disguise. That getting things done that just filling up that time that managing of those processes that making sure your stick sticking to the calendar and the time locks and all of those types of things means that accidentally you ended up like a hamster on a wheel. Well, the hamster chose to be there, but you didn’t.

And that’s the thing, I think that we really want to think about. And look at first, did we accidentally become a hamster on a wheel because of the productivity choices and plans and processes that we really liked and make us feel good because we can see output. Not all productivity is quantifiable, we just experience it because we get different results. So the rigidity is another thing that comes out of it, we get so bogged down in rigidity of the process, that we aren’t able to shift, we don’t recognize an opportunity when it comes along, we are closed to reprioritization, based off of what is showing up in the world compared to the plan that we have made. And I think that that’s an, a really key piece, which is, by the way, another kind of busy. If you are, if you are so dedicated to making sure you’re doing this thing at this time, no matter what you will get results for a period of time, it could be a long period of time. I mean, this could be yours. At some point, though, all of a sudden, the results are going to stop. And it’s going to be like Well, what happened? Well, there was an inability on inflexibility to see anything outside of that process. Because it was so good. And it was so optimized, and so much got done. So what does it actually mean to be productive and get stuff done in a role, where we’re doing a lot of thinking and talking and deciding and oversight, and a lot less doing acting? Managing? outputting? I think that’s really what we’re talking about. We have to make that shift away from we’re getting stuff done into, are we moving things forward? And it feels different, you might get done at the end of the day, I will today I’ll get done at the end of the day. And I’m like I had all these things to do. And boy, boy, I got those checked off. Did I also make forward movement? Those are the things that tend to not get put onto our priority list.

What are the things that I know I must do? Cool, what are the things that deadline are necessary? Cool. And then the third part is will? What else can I consider? Where do I need to be a little more creative? Where could I get clearer? What is the thing that I need to be thinking about next? Now one of the things that you hear me talking about it on a regular basis is this thing that I have created called the present retreat, it’s a period of its CEO time, right, it’s a period of time that is dedicated to being present, to taking a step out of the busyness of the day to day the demands and the interactions and the interruptions. And really spending time evaluating, reflecting, dreaming, prioritizing. And without that step out, right, the retreat part, there’s two kinds of retreat, there’s the retreat, we got to step out and take stock. And we also can, you know, go to the spa and relax a little bit. Yes, when we have that time that we have protected, and we’re bringing it to, we’re bringing it to the forefront and one day a week, that would be something that allows us to have a little bit of a spa day, it’s a different mindset that we require is required of us. We don’t have a to-do list per se, we’re creating our future to-do lists. And that’s the part where we have to flip that switch to really be productive as an executive in your organization. And as you are moving up into the role, you’re in into a manager into a Senior Manager Director all the way up to SVP and VP and higher. Here’s the thing, as you get to those higher and higher roles, the less and less you can quantify the work you do in a day.

There’s ambiguity there, and we forget that to its end, it’s hard because we know we were like, Oh, we can quantify what we’ve done. We can wear that we’ve got that yet at the same point in time. A lot of the work that we do is removing obstacles for others. There is no checklist for that. It’s what’s showing up. How do you get in the middle of it? How do you remove it and how do you enable and empower your people to do what they need to be doing? And then that’s also in line with the strategy, right? There’s a lot of thinking. There’s a lot of thoughtfulness that’s involved. And by the way, I’m not sure if you know this, but thought, Well, maybe you do know this, I know you feel it. And you might think it well when I am thinking and when I am creative, I’m not productive. And that is incorrect. And I’m going to tell you why it is incorrect in just a minute,

Announcer 10:25
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Jess Dewell 10:55
And here’s the thing, one of, one of the things that I noticed about the reports that came in from 2021, and what’s coming in out and what the priorities are in 2022, our business preparedness report, that is something that you can go to Red Direction, comm and get it has broken down the activities and the interests and the priorities that people like you have set for 2022. And they also shared, where they fell short, and what they thought of their 2021. And by the way, these are similar issues that happen on year after year. So even when you watch this, your future self comes back to listen to this program, because that’s what good learners do. They revisit the good content-filled, action-oriented, thought-provoking programs, podcasts, documentaries, TV shows, fiction books, nonfiction books, all of it, right, we wherever we can get that idea and inspiration we go, we can go back to those. Oh, that’s by the way, that’s a part of productivity that I’m gonna just stick in right here, revisit the things you found useful to find out if they’re still useful, because that’s part of our reflection process. As long as they’re still useful. We’re like, cool, let’s keep grabbing onto that. If we don’t resonate with it anymore, or we’ve moved past that, or we’ve achieved what we needed to achieve. And we’re still using an old idea and all the inspiration to move forward, we might end up getting stuck, we might lose momentum, we might not be getting the results we want. Even though we think we’re being productive because we learned it in the past, skills evolve. Just like technology skills evolve, just like each day, when we show up, and we decide how we’re going to engage in it. Okay, so that report right that business preparedness report business transformation. Here were some of the takeaways across the companies that submitted 35% of the leadership teams that reported in said that strategy and execution was the top priority. Productivity falls right into that. Now 31% of that the leadership teams that reported in also said that communication and leadership was their top priority. Okay, so two of the four main areas showed up as over 30%. And this is important because communication and leadership is also about prioritization, it is also about optimizing in a different way than getting the work done. So for those of you who subscribe to Inbox Zero, awesome, I’m proud of you, that is an aspiring thing, it’s so low on my priority list, don’t haven’t made that shift. And you get more time from that. Let’s be real, there are things you are or are not doing that get you more time. So it’s what you’re doing with that extra time, I do other things to get extra time. But I’m thinking about Inbox Zero for whatever reason, it just popped into my head. So this concept of you touch at once in your inbox, and it’s out means that your inbox is no longer your to-do list. That is an important thing. Because when we make a shift of something that we used to do to get to something new, everything looks different. It’s like a kaleidoscope. Everything looks different. So when we think about at strategy and execution, when we think about communication and leadership, what does that mean in relationship to prioritization? Well, the idea is the clearer well, I shouldn’t say the idea is, let me just tell you, here’s what I think because that’s what this podcast is about what I think and what I have to say to you today. So in this concept, right, we’re talking about clarity. When we know what the strategy is and it is clear, then we have the ability to communicate easily in a way that is received and understood by others. I came up with this phrase actually talking with a doing some work for myself. I was asked a question. And I was like, Well, how do I answer this question that doesn’t really have an answer? And I’ll even tell you, because, well, it doesn’t relate to business. I actually used a business decision-making process with it, or business interaction process with it. Okay. I was asked, well, what is your definition of horrible? And how do you know you’re horrible? Okay, so this self-reflection work, very important and leadership, very important to build compassion, to be understanding to understand where could we find information different than ourselves and continue to grow and develop and make sure that we’re showing up? Okay. So in that work, I like well, I don’t know, that’s a really big loaded question. So I’m going to have some emotion about it. Any big decision that we have, that we’re trying to find clarity around, we are going to have emotion. And when we recognize that emotion and bring it to the table, we are doing a great service. We are doing a great service to ourselves and others because by going Yep, there’s the emotion. It’s at the table with us, as we’re working through this question, this concept, this problem this issue, then we can we don’t have to let it control us. And we’re also not doing the work through the lens. It’s at the table and ads. But it doesn’t is not the primary. So then the second part of that was, will the equivalent of a brainstorm, I did some journaling around this one. And in fact, this is what I do. When I am putting together goals in order it for the organization and for the organizations that I work with also, what are all of the things there’s a lot of conversation, there’s a lot of work, there’s a lot of inspiration, what did I read last? What’s going on in the news? How are our competitors doing it? Right? SWOT function. SWOT. And when we have that handy, we can also bring it to the table and go, well, we don’t want to look at it through any one of those lenses. We want all of those to inform what we’re doing. And then it’s well, what do we think? How do we say, what is going on? And what comes up in terms of how does this look? Well, it turns out, I don’t have a single definition for horrible, I have a range of horrible, and it depends on where you’re at and where you’re coming from and what’s going on, by the way, very similar to a lot of things we’re doing in business, how do we know we’re successful? It depends on what’s going on what’s showing up and how we’re responding. So you take that, and then it’s like, okay, so now you’ve got this nut, and it’s usually really big. Can you say what needs to be said, I call them thought bubbles? Can you need to say what needs to be said in a thought bubble? Because as soon as you can get that thought bubble in place, you can start using it and testing it out? Is it clear? Did that person understand what I’m saying? How are they showing up? Can they take it and apply it to their role without being overwhelmed with too much information, and without being underwhelmed and going, whatever, that’s not going to stick? Right, we need that person to receive it. So those thought bubbles are incredibly important. I don’t want to call them principals because they’re not, I don’t really want to call them best practices, because they’re not, they’re these things that will change as we grow and change as an organization that can just allow us to ensure we come to the same place and have connection, as we are building our company together all the people that are coming to work every day to work with you to do the job that they have been hired to do to be responsible and accountable for it. Because good productivity isn’t measured in what the result is of actually getting stuff done. When you’re at the, the high senior-level executive and leadership positions in an organization. It’s how many people understand so that they have less obstacles, and they know how to prioritize the actions that get stuff done in that day. I’m not saying you don’t have stuff to do, you have a lot to do, it just looks a little different. And it helps empower those people that are working with you to do their job well. So I was gonna say, oh, Scott is in the background, by the way. So I’m gonna just do a quick shout-out to Scott. If you either come on or text me, could you tell me what I was going to tell people more of I recognize that, and I was really excited about it. But now I can’t. So while he’s telling me what I was going to come back to, I want to tell you a little bit more about this report. This report, the business transformations for 2022 or Business Preparedness Report. It actually breaks down leadership into the cardinal directions north, south, east and west. And what it does, and it really doesn’t matter which one it is what matters is it matters. Are you focusing on strategy and execution? Are you focusing on communication? Are you focusing on the other ones? Because if you are the only way to know you’re going in the right direction, think about a compass is that you’ve aligned your compass up so that your if you’re going east that, you know, you’re going east, you’re not accidentally going north, you’re not accidentally going west, you’re going in the direction that you want. So when we think about the cardinal directions, it’s not because we have a true north, well, we all do. But we’re not using our true north, we’re actually using the true north to make sure of business and how we do business and the way businesses run and can be successful. And what are we focusing on, so that we know we’re going in the path that we want to go as long as we want to go there. Because even if we’re just a little bit off, we can get way off in the future, if we are not careful at the beginning. And that comes back to one of the things that clarity, that thoughtfulness work, that work that doesn’t have a checklist box, it might not feel very accomplished that might make you leave you feeling unaccomplished at the end of the day, or the end of the week or the end of the month. And it’s, it’s amplified when we don’t have results to go with it. And so we know that we’re doing the right work, we’re prioritizing the right things, because we’ve aligned and made sure that all of our goals are clear in relationship to the direction that we’re traveling. We’ve brought all the pieces to the table, and I was using Kaleidoscope earlier. I know kaleidoscopes really don’t go in a backpack when you’re hiking, but it’s kind of this thing that keeps showing up. So I’m gonna stick with it. So we have our compass, and we have our kaleidoscope. And we have all of the other pieces. And this is where the, the amazing piece of productivity is. This is where the secret sauce of your company, the way that you do your work, the way that you serve your customers comes together that competitive advantage will come together with these things and know that you are gaining traction because one of the things that I did notice in those search results that is talked about in this report. Remember, you can get it it’s free, go to Red Direction, get red and get it is that people said that they were interacting with their strategy yet they weren’t getting results. I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe it. I’m glad y’all are listening. You’re like, Yes, I’ll talk about my strategy more good. Now. So that’s good. When you’re not getting the results you want. It means something means there’s a lack of clarity, it means there’s a lack of alignment of action to initiative, it means there’s a misunderstanding somewhere along the line. It could mean you think you’re going east, but you’re going south. And how do we catch those? That’s where true prioritization gets us farther. That’s where when we’re thinking about when do we spend time working on removing obstacles, making sure that we’re doing the right things at the right time? Because I think people mistake Oh, I think people mistake this is the thing. Productivity with decisions. I’ve made the decision now I’m going to go get it no matter what. Well, guess what? Sometimes we think we have to make decisions for all time. And that’s daunting. So we get stuck, or we slow down, or we don’t do enough or we hedge, right. That’s where that ambiguity could come from, or excuse me, the, the lack of clarity can come from, we’re hedging. Well, the more laser-focused we can get, the more we know where we’re going, the more commitment we can put behind it, the easier it is for those who have hitched their missions to ours can come with us. They’re like, Oh, alright, I get this, I know how I fit in, I know what I can do, I might even see how I can do my role better. I might even see come up with a new idea of how we can change the experience for customers. All of these things, not only allow us to get more done, it allows us to adapt, as we go, candidly, radically shifting as we want to, as we would like to as we need to I still haven’t heard back from Scott. So I apologize to y’all about that. That I might not have answered the question. I said something and I not gonna be able to get back to it. I know I said it, but I don’t know what it was. Welcome to the world of just, this is one of those things where it’s like, yeah, that’s good. We’ll come back, make a tease. And so sorry. There’s other good content in its place, however. And I’m going to start with this, right, we’ve talked about we don’t want to accidentally be hamsters on a wheel. We’ve talked about the fact we don’t want to be too rigid. We’ve talked about the fact that we really need to know where we’re going and the clarity. And here’s that practical example again, is what’s at the table that showing up? Is there a motion? Is it, is it our SWOT? Is it somebody? Is it internal? Is it external and understanding all the pieces that are there so that we can look and decide what decision needs to be made? And based off of the decision that can be made we understand and prioritize the actions because in the end, what we say we do and what we actually do, when unaligned don’t get us anywhere stalemate Right, it’s like, it’s physics. You hit the ball’s hip, and then they start, they might back up a little. So if you have two balls that come together, and they hit in the middle, what happens? They lose their momentum immediately. It crashes and then there’s basically no momentum left. And we need everything to keep going. So things in motion tend to stay in motion. Use that law of physics. And we don’t want anything to get in the way of staying in motion in our organizations, especially ourselves. So quit disguising productivity as something it’s not.

You’ve been listening to the Bold Business Podcast, public edition. The ideas and thoughts explored in this podcast are continued and expanded upon for members of Jess’s exclusive Fast Track Your Business membership community. To find out more, visit fast track your business today dot com. Special thanks to the Scott Treatment for production assistance.