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Learning how to prioritize change

This blog was posted by Ron Evans on October 6, 2014 as part of the CultureHive Digital Marketing Academy. You can find out more about the project here.

circle_ronevansOne of the most interesting aspects of the Digital Marketing Academy so far has been watching how our DMA organizations implement their experiments. Interestingly, the experiment design phase was a snap for my groups. Where it often can get sticky is finding the time to implement experiments in everyday life.

We all face this every day — we get some things done, and don’t quite get to other things. Sometimes those “other things” get put off for weeks, and even months, although they are still on our “to do” list. Unfortunately, many people see these items over and over again on their list — they never go away, and cause a mild slap on the thigh along with a “I MUST get that done.” Think of how that brings you down every time you see that unfinished task. Not good for morale.

If this happens to you, don’t be so hard on yourself. It’s common. Most of the time, it is caused by one of three issues (and sometimes all three!):

1. Fear of starting the task because of a sense of potential failure. This might be due to you not applying enough thought process, not having enough information, a lack of planning on exact steps to carry out, or you feeling out of your league. If this resonates with you, the best thing to do is set aside time to look at the problem, remove distractions, and just start. Even if you don’t have all the answers yet. Starting is the important part. Get going, and as your brain wraps around the issue, you’ll find that you are more prepared to proceed and succeed than you thought.

2. Lack of prioritization. Aren’t all tasks really just priorities? If success at a specific goal is important to you, then you must adjust your calendar to not do something else so your new goal is the priority. Saying “I’m just too busy” is really saying “That new task isn’t very important to me right now,” and often leads to a last-minute scramble the day before the deadline, with potentially poor results. What tasks on your to-do list are you doing as “busy work” so you can avoid doing the new task? Cut that out! Assign those things to someone else, or just accept that they will not get done right now because your new task must be a priority.

3. Lack of permission to proceed. This might be because someone higher up in your organization doesn’t have the same priorities as you, or doesn’t have buy-in on the project. In this case, it is best to have a conversation with that person, explaining the deadline you are under, and asking them to help you accomplish the goal by allowing you to set it as a priority for yourself. It may take some explanation of the benefits to you or the organization, but most people are reasonable, and the benefits and necessity of accomplishing the goal must be communicated.

DMA organizations, as you move to implement your experiments, consider the above, and be ruthless as to your planning. Set dates, set priorities, get your buy-in and just start. New ways of thinking and doing are often darkest on the path, as they are unknown. But once you start walking, you’ll realize that the path is easier than you think.

-Ron Evans

1 Comment

  1. […] week Ron Evans looked at issues that stop us getting things done. Like Ron, the fellows I’m working with have some great ideas: they know the type of digital […]

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