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Managing Change When Everything Should Have Been Done Yesterday

Tuesday, September 29, 2020
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“When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” —Wayne Dyer

Have you ever had a list of projects in which everything was a priority?

It’s happened to me, and it’s probably happened to you too. We get our task list together, pour our coffee or tea, and settle in for a productive day when suddenly we’re overwhelmed with new projects that require our attention.

I’ve been in many discussions about how to manage time, but I believe that it is more of a task management question. We only have so much time and energy in a given day. Therefore, it’s crucial for us to know how and when to prioritize tasks to minimize pressure, stress, and the overwhelming.

7 Tips to Manage Change When Everything Is a Priority

While it’s important to keep work on schedule, it can be overwhelming when you are assigned new priorities in addition to the looming deadlines you are rushing to meet. So how do you handle a change in priorities without compromising the flow of your initiatives and projects? Let’s discuss how to make it easier by following these seven tips:

1. Plan Before Starting Anything

When you manage multiple projects, not much should be left to chance. It is a best practice to create a successful project plan that details the activities, tasks, and resources available. Whether you’re working as an individual or with a team, you will be exhausting mental capacity if you try to manage multiple priorities. The project plan sets the tone for the workload to be balanced.

2. Prioritize Tasks

Do what you can to determine which tasks will have a greater impact on the organization than others and work on them accordingly. Determine the effect on the scope, schedule, and budget, detailing the time you need to spend on each task. Everything cannot be a priority. As you analyze and prioritize, this allows for less important task to move down the list. I know this is not simple and is easier said than done. However, you can group similar tasks together, which will allow for different priorities to be accomplished in the least amount of time possible.

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3. Know When to Delegate

George S. Patton, a celebrated United States Army general said, “Don’t tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and let them surprise you with results.”

A good leader knows when to take charge as well as when to trust their team members to get the job done. This requires a relationship of trust. It does not mean that you wash your hands with every aspect of the project. Instead, it means that you empower your team to succeed by letting them know that you have the utmost confidence in their abilities, and you provide what they need to take over. As a leader, it requires that you focus on the results you need rather than micromanaging the entire project.

Also, it may not hurt to reach out to the person you report to if you need guidance prioritizing your tasks. Seeking out direction demonstrates that you’re thinking at a strategic level and not just completing tasks. There maybe workshops or training available to hone this skill.

4. Stay Focused

While you balance multiple projects at once, you are bound to give less attention to the task you are currently occupied with. To become effective with managing projects when everything is a priority, you must stay focused on the task at hand. One way of achieving this is to assign a specific time to each project according to its priority. This method ensures that your attention remains undivided. I have used the Pomodoro technique to assist with productivity. You’ll stay productive by knowing exactly what you have influence and control over so that you don’t waste time on work that is out of your control.

5. Communicate With Team Members

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This discussion would not be complete without talking about communication. It is key in everything we do. Effective communication in projects is, perhaps, one of the most important aspects of managing multiple priorities. Many successful change management methodologies, like Prosci, focus on best practices when communicating about change in your organization and particularly with deliverables. While managing multiple projects, this becomes even more important because the team can know about any potential problems and discuss their solutions before any major delays in the projects occur.

6. Manage Your Energy

Everyone is different. Some people have their high-energy time first thing in the morning and would rather get tasks complete as early as possible. Others have theirs around lunch. Still others peak later in the day. It all depends on the individual. Find out during which time of day you do your best work and schedule your more challenging priorities at that time.

7. Manage Expectations

Managing expectations of others and yourself. One rule I’ve learned about plans is that they never go according to plan. Be prepared to be unprepared and support others through those difficult times as well. Think about how your organizational culture handles change initiatives. It won’t do you any good to get frustrated if you feel things don’t move fast enough or if you work in an organization that is slow-moving and requires a lot of approvals, sign-offs, or other red tape processes to legitimately get work done. Go with the flow and pitch in when necessary to get things moving along faster.

Always remember that managing priorities is supposed to create organization, not overwhelm employees. Remember as you pivot to remain persistent, innovate with new ideas, visualize completion, open up, and track your activity.

What tips do you use to manage your list of priorities?

About the Author

As a career coach, consultant, leadership development expert, speaker, and trainer, Valerie empowers individuals, organizations, and teams, to thrive amidst change. She is recognized for her ability to partner with leadership to align change strategies with business needs, to achieve performance goals, lead organizational change, and engage employees. Valerie holds a Master of Arts degree in Management and Leadership with an emphasis in organizational development from Webster University and a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration and Finance from Winthrop University. She is a Georgetown Certified Change Management Practitioner and is a Certified Professional Coach (CPC) through the Center for Coaching Certification, as well as a John Maxwell Certified Coach, Speaker, and Trainer. Valerie is also an award-winning Podcaster.

1 Comment
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Valerie, thank you so much for these tips. I am going to use them to aid in my productivity. I like and agree with what you said about, "...managing priorities is supposed to create organization." I am used to being organized, however; with the new role, I am all over the place. I asked co-workers, how do they manage when everything feels like a priority? Most of them said, they just do it and I am still wondering…what does that mean. At any rate, at least now I have a foundation.
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