How to Increase Your Productivity: Setting Priorities

Topic(s): assessment, job performance
Publication: Harvard Business Review
Article: Make Time for the Work That Matters
Authors: Julian Birkinshaw and Jordan Cohen
Reviewed by: Susan Rosengarten

How many of us frequently find ourselves with a never-ending to-do list, wishing there were more hours in a day? We want to achieve our goals and increase productivity, but there’s just no way to get it all done. Well, the trick to boosting your productivity is not necessarily having more time to accomplish your tasks, but instead simply making the most of what time you do have by setting priorities.

To help you in your quest to become more productive and time-efficient, the current authors, Julian Birkinshaw and Jordan Cohen (2013), developed a self-assessment that you can take to identify the low value tasks you perform every day. Managing your time effectively means being able to recognize what your priorities are, and delegating non-essential work when possible. However, that can be a difficult task when you are facing a list as long as your arm, all of which seem to be high priorities. This tool will help you decide which of your daily activities you should either 1) eliminate, 2) delegate or outsource, or 3) redesign.
They suggest you sort your daily tasks into three categories:

    1. “Quick Kills” – Effort expended that may be appreciated, but is not absolutely necessarily; the kind of work that no one will notice if you stop doing.


    1. “Off-load Opportunities” – Tasks you can painlessly delegate to others.


  1. “Long-term Redesign” – Work that needs to be restructured, so it can be performed more efficiently.

This will allow you to get rid of pointless tasks and clear up your schedule so you can focus your time on work that really matters.

So what are you waiting for? Take the assessment today, and see how much more productive you can become!