I was looking for the show notes (I do better with the transcripts than the podcasts) for this one, and they don't seem to exist.*

I'd really like to know how to help both myself and my directs identify our "big balls", so that we can make sure that we are clear on priorities.

Before I spent too much time thinking about that, thought I would ask if anyone had seen an exercise/process to help with that. 

Or if there is an obvious podcast that I've missed?



*Also: do not ever use the title of this thread as a Google search term. Just a tip.

maura's picture

I like the way David Allen addresses the overall topic of work and priorities in Getting Things Done.  If you haven't read through that, I'd start there. 

The initial setup process for GTD involves doing a "mindsweep" of all the things currently occupying your brain, your desk, your computer, etc, and categorizing them into projects and areas of focus.  Perhaps it's a High C way of doing things... but once you can see EVERYTHING that's currently on your plate and occupying your time, it becomes clear that some things are very important and not getting enough of your time (free up time to focus more on these), whereas some things suck up a lot of time but aren't as important (eliminate or delegate these where possible).

It's well worth the read, and even though I still think I stink at doing GTD, even the small bits of progress I've made have made a huge difference in my ability to, well, get things done.  The book does what it says, go figure. 

lmoorhead's picture

I am just starting to do something like this - trying to do a brainstorm about once a quarter with my team, when we set our quarterly objectives.  The idea is to figure out what the top priorities are, who should be on point for different things, etc and then we can put it all into our organization's objective tracking tool.  

You will need some office supplies:  colored sticky notes (ideally a different color for each person but not mandatory), a thick marker, the biggest blank wall you can find (ideally a white board but you could also use flip charts or butcher paper), and a camera to record everything at the end.

How long this takes depends on how big your team is and how many projects you usually have, I have 6 directs who each have between 10-20 projects on their list each quarter, and we can get this done in about an hour total.  About 20 minutes for data capture, 20 to categorize and group, and 20 to identify the top items.

Basically, it's a derivation of the card sort approach we use for some of our projects.  What we do is use sticky-notes, write each project on a sticky and post it up on the wall.   Works nicely with a group, too, if you give everyone a different color sticky and have each of them write their own and post them on the wall - the color-coding gives you a visual sense of who is working on what.  Once everything is captured, we categorize by moving the stickies around and putting them close to other "like" items.  Last but not least, anything that is a key organizational priority or just can't move for some reason (such as being tied to expense budget in a particular quarter, or related to a product launch, or something like that)  we just put a star on that one - literally, with a pen you draw a star on it.  Next time I might bring some actual gold stars :) If the boss cares about it, it automatically gets a star.  When you're done - star="big rock'.  We take a picture of the board to record what's on there, and then later we can transfer it to the official tool. 

There are high tech alternatives to this, I know, but this works for us - standing up and walking around just seems to get more creativity flowing.  Plus all the materials are already here in the office, which is also a consideration.

Let me know if you decide to try it, I would love to hear how it works or if you did any variation.

bug_girl's picture

I agree! GTD is a wonderful book.

And the card sort aligns very well with what I was imagining--I do usability evals, so vaguely similar. (I use colored post-its too.)

Thanks for the validation! ;)