The 6 ‘P’s in Profit, #2 Prioritise
The first ‘P’ in Profit was to make a plan. And you will remember that I likened it to a builders blueprint. Though I’m not talking about a formal business plan with spreadsheets and financial calculations you have to take along to the bank if you need funding.
No, just a common sense approach so that you have a good idea of what you are going to do, how you are going to do and the timescale you are working to.
If you have a plan then this enables you to have a good stab at measuring how much progress you are achieving.
However, I also likened business to a battlefield and referred to the necessity to keep an eye on what is going on at all times.
Military men refer to; ‘the fog of war’ and it is well known that whatever plan is in place at the beginning is so much waste paper usually within 5 minutes of launch. It is the same with business at every level.
As Barry Gibbons wrote in ‘If You Want To Really Make God Laugh, Show Him Your Business Plan”, the best place for your business plan after you’ve got your funding is in a forgotten drawer somewhere because the one certainty you have is that it’s not going to happen like that.
This is why ‘Prioritise’ is the second ‘P’ in Profit.
At it’s most mundane prioritising can be reduced to a daily ‘To-Do’ list. We all have them, most of us ignore them the minute they are written yet the minutes we spend producing them are probably the most important few minutes of the day.
This is when you refresh your memory of the plan and compare where you are to where you should be. You make adjustments to the order and priority of your work and you determine what you are going to achieve today.
And that’s the important part. Far better to identify a small number of things that you are determined to complete today than just keep regurgitating an ever increasing list of things to do that does nothing more than demoralise you.
When you write your to-do list, whatever form it might take, try to identify achievable objectives both in time and difficulty so that you end the day being able to strike out those things you have completed and achieve a sense of satisfaction and progress.
As I write this it is 10:00pm and this is the last thing I am going to do today. But it was on my list this morning and is a priority item so it is going to get done. Then I can sleep easy without having to worry about when I can catch up with an incompleted task.
The fact is that today has gone badly wrong and I’ve been making adjustments all day to changing circumstances. And that’s a bad thing to be doing because it puts me here at 10 o’clock at night still working. You know the feeling -and this is exactly what you (and I!) should be working to avoid.
Those few minutes in the morning should allow you to survey the battelfield, see what changes have taken place, adjust your response and basically create a short term plan for the day. It’s simply the difference between strategy and tactics. Strategy is you long term effort and direction and tactics are short term, short range activities. In this case, deciding on your priorities for the day.
Regular assessment on a daily basis of how you are progressing against your plan is an essential activity. Prioritising work for the day and making changes to your plan is to work ‘on’ your business. If you find yourself endlessly grinding through routine work with no time to actually achieve anything is when you are working ‘in’ your business.
You’re not a business owner when that happens. You are simply a worker in a business that you happen to own.
So ‘Prioritise. is the second ‘P’ in profit. Any guesses on the third?