COMPETENCY

Plan and prioritize tasks, stay flexible, and organize team members.

OBJECTIVE

Reinforce team members’ understanding that proper planning leads to proper execution.

ASSIGNMENTS:

  • Read Nehemiah 2 and answer the following questions.

  • Read Tatyana Sussex’s article How to Prioritize Work When Everything Is #1 and respond to the appropriate questions.

  • Watch Brendon Burchard’s video “Prioritize Like a Genius” and answer the following questions.

  • Reach out to the person or persons you listed in assignment 2

ASSIGNMENT 1

Nehemiah 2 (NLT)

Early the following spring, in the month of Nisan, during the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes’ reign, I was serving the king his wine. I had never before appeared sad in his presence. So the king asked me, “Why are you looking so sad? You don’t look sick to me. You must be deeply troubled.” Then I was terrified, but I replied, “Long live the king! How can I not be sad? For the city where my ancestors are buried is in ruins, and the gates have been destroyed by fire.” The king asked, “Well, how can I help you?” With a prayer to the God of heaven, I replied, “If it please the king, and if you are pleased with me, your servant, send me to Judah to rebuild the city where my ancestors are buried.” The king, with the queen sitting beside him, asked, “How long will you be gone? When will you return?” After I told him how long I would be gone, the king agreed to my request. I also said to the king, “If it please the king, let me have letters addressed to the governors of the province west of the Euphrates River, instructing them to let me travel safely through their territories on my way to Judah. And please give me a letter addressed to Asaph, the manager of the king’s forest, instructing him to give me timber. I will need it to make beams for the gates of the Temple fortress, for the city walls, and for a house for myself.” And the king granted these requests, because the gracious hand of God was on me. When I came to the governors of the province west of the Euphrates River, I delivered the king’s letters to them. The king, I should add, had sent along army officers and horsemen to protect me. But when Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite official heard of my arrival, they were very displeased that someone had come to help the people of Israel. So I arrived in Jerusalem. Three days later, I slipped out during the night, taking only a few others with me. I had not told anyone about the plans God had put in my heart for Jerusalem. We took no pack animals with us except the donkey I was riding. After dark I went out through the Valley Gate, past the Jackal’s Well, and over to the Dung Gate to inspect the broken walls and burned gates. Then I went to the Fountain Gate and to the King’s Pool, but my donkey couldn’t get through the rubble. So, though it was still dark, I went up the Kidron Valley instead, inspecting the wall before I turned back and entered again at the Valley Gate. The city officials did not know I had been out there or what I was doing, for I had not yet said anything to anyone about my plans. I had not yet spoken to the Jewish leaders—the priests, the nobles, the officials, or anyone else in the administration. But now I said to them, “You know very well what trouble we are in. Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire. Let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem and end this disgrace!” Then I told them about how the gracious hand of God had been on me, and about my conversation with the king. They replied at once, “Yes, let’s rebuild the wall!” So they began the good work. But when Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem the Arab heard of our plan, they scoffed contemptuously. “What are you doing? Are you rebelling against the king?” they asked. I replied, “The God of heaven will help us succeed. We, his servants, will start rebuilding this wall. But you have no share, legal right, or historic claim in Jerusalem.”

QUESTIONS:

  1. What strategy, system, or traits do you think lead to Nehemiah’s success?

  2. Highlight a few of the steps in the passage that Nehemiah took as he approached the huge undertaking that was rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem.

  3. Where has a lack of planning cost you? What did you learn from that experience?

  4. Name some people who have influenced you to complete something. What are some of their strongest traits?

  5. What is one trait or habit from this passages that you can begin putting into practice this week to help you plan and stay flexible?

ASSIGNMENT 2

How to Prioritize Work When Everything Is #1

Tatyana Sussex

April 8, 2014

All projects—especially large, complex projects—need clear priorities. Easier said than done. You can count on technical projects, no matter how well-planned, to involve change orders, re-prioritization and the regular appearance of surprises. It’s just the natural order of things.

But still. Knowing how to prioritize work affects the success of your project, the engagement of your team, and your role as a leader. One of the biggest challenges for project managers and leaders is accurately prioritizing the work that matters on a daily basis. Even if you have the best project management software on the planet, you’re the one who enters information into the tool. And, you don’t want to fall into the role of crying “top priority” for every other project that comes down the pike. Just as you have to be diligent and have the right kind of project insight to ensure that nobody’s working on yesterday’s priorities. It takes a lot of practice to get this right.

To help you manage your team’s workload and hit deadlines, here are 6 steps to prioritizing projects that have a lot of moving parts.

Collect a list of all your tasks. Pull together everything you could possibly consider getting done in a day. Don’t worry about the order, or the number of items up front.

Identify urgent vs. important. The next step is to see if you have any tasks that need immediate attention. We’re talking about work that, if not completed by the end of the day or in the next several hours, will have serious negative consequences (missed client deadline; missed publication or release deadlines, etc.). Check to see if there are any high-pri dependencies that rely on you finishing up a piece of work now.

Assess value. Next, look at your important work and identify what carries the highest value to your business and organization. As a general practice, you want to recognize exactly which types of tasks have top priority over the others. For example, focus on: client projects before internal work; setting up the new CEO’s computer before re-configuring the database; answering support tickets before writing training materials, and so on. Another way to assess value is to look at how many people are impacted by your work. In general, the more people involved or impacted, the higher the stakes.

Order tasks by estimated effort . If you have tasks that seem to tie for priority standing, check their estimates, and start on whichever one you think will take the most effort to complete. Productivity experts suggest the tactic of starting the lengthier task first. But, if you feel like you can’t focus on your meatier projects before you finish up the shorter task, then go with your gut and do that. It can be motivating to check a small task off the list before diving into deeper waters.

Be flexible and adaptable . Uncertainty and change is a given. Know that your priorities will change, and often when you least expect them to. But—and here’s the trick—you also want to stay focused on the tasks you’re committed to completing.

Know when to cut. You probably can’t get to everything on your list. After you prioritize your tasks and look at your estimates, cut the remaining tasks from your list, and focus on the priorities that you know you must and can complete for the day. Then take a deep breath, dive in and be ready for anything.

QUESTIONS:

  1. Have you ever been given or been part of a large project? Explain the steps you took in order to achieve your goal.

  2. Name a few mistakes that a person could make when asked to complete a complex project. What principles could you learn from these examples?

  3. If you struggle with the lack of prioritization and wanted to make real progress in that area, what would be the most significant step you can take?

  4. If you could have someone come alongside you to encourage you and help you through the process, who would that be? (Could be more than one person)

ASSIGNMENT 3

Brendon Burchard “Prioritize Like a Genius”

 

QUESTIONS:

  1. How would you grade yourself on an A-F scale for prioritizing and completing tasks?

  2. Are you one who gives your time, attention and energy away freely, that at the end of the day, you have no peace or progress? What impact do you feel it would have if you changed that?

  3. What are the 3 simple takeaways Brendon offers? How could those 3 takeaways improve your life of prioritizing?

LEADERSHIP TAKEAWAY (To be completed during group discussion)