If you’ve been counting on prioritization to eventually help you arrive at the end of your monster to-do list, you may very well have set yourself up for disappointment, writes Ed Batista for Harvard Business Review. What’s really needed is all-out triage, and an important part of this is recognizing that there are tasks that should not only fall at the bottom of your list, but that you should actively ignore.
Professional triage is a strategic undertaking, and — this may surprise you — an emotional one, Batista notes. Saying no to requests that aren’t the best use of your time, or determining that it’s not only OK but necessary to ignore certain people, is not an easy thing to do. It’s not how we were trained professionally and, for that matter, probably not how we were brought up. But, especially as you take on roles of greater seniority, it is a critical part of creating a workflow and a work life that is manageable, productive and successful.
Across the globe, some companies are making these decisions easier for their employees. In Germany, employees at Daimler (the automobile company that produces Mercedes-Benz, among others) have the option to use a “Mail on Holiday” program that automatically deletes emails while on vacation, referring the sender to a different employee for assistance. “Our employees should relax on holiday and not read work-related emails,” said Wilfried Porth, board member for human resources. “With ‘Mail on Holiday’ they start back after the holidays with a clean desk. There is no traffic jam in their inbox. That is an emotional relief.”
Have you taken steps to triage your workload that you’ve found to be successful? Let us know what’s worked and what hasn’t in the comments section below.