The Landscape of Work

Prioritization: Breaking Down Tasks to Achieve Goalsoffice workers 150x150 The Landscape of Work

In our last column, we discussed how focusing your businesses’ goals, narrowing them to a manageable three, is the first part of the formula for success. Limited, well-defined goals allow you to direct your energy into the areas most critical to your success.

How, then, do you go about achieving these goals?


Prioritization involves a realistic attitude toward the steps involved. For most goals, you and your team will be able to brainstorm multiple tasks and activities associated with the completion of the goal. But are they all necessary?

Some companies employ a business prioritization matrix to plot tasks according to importance and difficulty. Tasks judged as most important and least difficult to execute are “no-brainers.” Do them, and do them now. Tasks deemed least important and most difficult can be put off. Don’t waste your time on them now. Important but difficult tasks are delegated to review, while less important but easy tasks are planned for the future.

I like to break down the process this way:

1)       Compile a comprehensive set of tasks and activities needed to achieve the goal. Not every item will be necessarily achievable, but, nonetheless, write them all down. Share them with the team in an open and collaborative process, using a workspace like Basecamp or Sharepoint to keep everyone in the loop and collect ideas.

2)       Assign values. Using the business prioritization matrix or another assessment tool, determine which are necessary to achieve the goal and which are merely niceties.

3)       Identify the correct sequencing. Your top priority may not be your first priority if there are multiple steps that must precede it. Figure out what needs to happen, in what order, before you can execute your top priority. Really think through your sequencing so there are no surprises as you approach implementation.

4)       Delegate ownership. For every task, identify the individual or team responsible: allowing them to own that activity empowers them to get it done. Owners are also responsible for sharing their process with the team: how will they accomplish this task, and when will it be completed?

5)       Keep it simple. Keep it really simple. The simpler it is, the higher the chance of successful completion.

Prioritization is a comparatively fast way to save time and energy, produce predictable results, and keep the process from getting bogged down in minutia. It’s a valuable tool in your process, which can hasten the completion of goals and your ultimate success.

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About Lance Trebesch

Lance Trebesch is the CEO of the BBB Accredited and Ticket River. He lives in Montana, serves on the Board of the BBB Serving Eastern Washington, North Idaho, and Montana, and loves building companies.