How to Prioritize Your Work When Your Manager Doesn’t

This is a reality I think many of us deal with now, or will face down the road. We have a boss that wants things done (of course), but is unclear or hands off with his approach to management. We have a laundry list of things we want to get done, and our higher-ups have theirs. How do we go about prioritizing and managing these tasks? HBR has a great post about this and I through I would break it down as it related to me.

Take Ownership

This is a big one, theres a reason it's first! Years ago when working in a warehouse as a forklift driver I saw myself as stuck, without the possibility of parole. I'll save you the rah-rah motivational thought process, but I eventually decided that no more would I be, just a worker. I took pride in organizing the crates neatly, in building outbound pallets effectively, and in getting trucks in and out as soon as possible. I took ownership of my work, and sooner than later I became the warehouse manager. A rather tame victory, I know, but it served to be an example for me going forward.

Filter Priorities

I struggle with this every day, even as I write this post now. I have many other things I need to actually be doing right now, but instead I am doing everything I can to keep myself busy. This is a major work in progress.

Determine Next Steps with an Organizing Framework

Deciding on a TaskOperationalize and Flag Priorities in Your Calendar

I am heavy in the Apple ecosystem... no I do not wear that damn watch. With that said, everything goes on the iCal. Reminders are for tidbits that need to be done throughout the day, and notes are for longer-form thoughts that I just need to get out. This systems seems to work for me, but I still happen to miss a a meeting every now and then... ahem... sorry about that. I make great schedules every day, but my success rate is around 85%. I need a better way of holding my feet to the fire and "operationalizing" my decisions and calendar.

Okay, thats my rant monkeys. How do you prioritize your work? What are some of the tactics I'm missing here?

P.S. I work for myself (hopefully not for long), so being organized and prioritizing work on my own is critical, otherwise things fall into disarray... very quickly.

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