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Priority Management and Time Tools

April 1, 2014
Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of


We all experience day-to-day changes in work prioritization, but where do these priorities come from?

1. Key Result Areas a.k.a. “Big Rocks”: Areas in your work and personal life in which you must excel to achieve your aim

Define your priorities. A sound work-life balance requires us to manage and balance the areas in which we are recognized, measured, and compensated at work, with the areas in which we find happiness, fulfillment, and well-being in life. Prioritizing the top five “Big Rocks” we’re driving toward in both work and life helps provide perspective on what’s important to us, and why it’s important to us.

2. 80/20 Rule

Realize what makes a difference. 80% of the effects/results are driven by 20% of the activities/causes.

3. Urgent vs. Important

Prioritize prioritization. Determining the difference between ‘urgent’ and ‘important’ is a key process for identifying what tasks offer direct value, or no value. Assigning a ‘1’, ‘2’, ‘3’, and ‘4’ to daily tasks can help determine valid priorities and avoid a time sink. A good rule of thumb: you should have more 1s and 2s for items deemed urgent or important, but bear in mind that to-do lists are only for tasks that can be done today!


  • Multi-task carefully or not at all
    • Example: Multi-tasking during meetings is seldom useful
  • Control what you can
    • Be assertive, write things down, and ask for help
  • Plan and rehearse today to prevent overload tomorrow
    • Maintain one calendar, daily to-do lists, A-Z filing system
  • ‘Eating the frog’ early in the day stores energy and facilitates a sense of accomplishment for momentum into the remainder of the day
  • Blocking time is a great tool for reducing surprises and staying ‘day current’ to avoid the busy trap
  • Productive procrastination can free up time by delaying non-value tasks


Robert Wiles, Supervisor Nelnet Workforce Management

Robert Wiles, Supervisor
Nelnet Workforce Management

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