How you can prioritize ideas after a brainstorming session?

If after a brainstorming session, you have a lot of excellent ideas to improve or redesign the process, you have a sweet problem on your hands.  You and your team cannot implement all of them, you would have to go through validation, and prioritization process to choose those that will happen now, later, or maybe never.

To choose the ideas that require less effort and create more impact, you need a prioritization tool.  The prioritization matrix shown below is the one I use.  It shows a graph that measures effort along the x-axis and impact along the y-axis.  Each axis was divided by half, creating four boxes.  Each one represents a different action based on the level of impact on the desired results and the level of effort need it to achieve it.  

The options are the following.

  1. High impact, low effort – These are quick wins, prioritize these ideas.
  2. High impact, high effort – Ideas under this box deserve action, maybe they can’t be completed within a week or required more resources but should be next in priority.
  3. Low impact, low effort – Consider implementing ideas within this box.  You can do them when there is time available.  Some people think about this category as fill-ins.
  4. Low impact, high effort – Ideas that have low to no impact in the desired condition can represent a waste of resources, do not do them.

This is how you prioritize the ideas.

  1. After brainstorming, assign a number to each idea.  
  2. Draw the prioritization matrix in a whiteboard or flipchart.
  3. With the participation of the same team that generate the ideas, classify each one in one of those boxes.  
  4. Select the ideas for short-term implementation.

The next step is to select a leader and team for each initiative.  In no time, you all are going to be ready to have more fun!  

Is multitasking effective to increase productivity?

Multitasking is a common strategy to try to deliver tasks on time. Do you know what the number one excuse to not complete something on time is? Yes, you guessed it, it’s a lack of time. Time management skills are critical for personal and professional success. Single parents and entrepreneurs are among those who need time management super skills.

The way you handle time determines whether or not you complete all the tasks you have scheduled. Being organized is one of those skills that help to manage your time better. Most people think that multitasking is an ability that helps to increase productivity but is not.

What science says about multitasking

People who multitask decrease their productivity by 20-40% and are less efficient than those who focus on one project at a time. Time lost switching among tasks increases the complexity of the tasks (University of Michigan)

Research in neuroscience tells us that the brain doesn’t do more than one task at a time. Each time we move from one thing to another, there is a start-stop process in the brain. In other words, each time you change tasks, you have to refocus your brain and determine what to do. Multitasking should be called switch-tasking and does not help productivity. For better time management, try the following things.

Skills you need to master time management

  1. Organization
    • Practice 5S in your office or work area
    • Organize your meetings and tasks throughout the day. Meetings are better early during the day because the time leading up to an event is often wasted.
    • Separate your routine, automatic tasks from the strategic ones. Strategic duties usually need a higher level of focus, schedule them for the daytime at which you are more productive.
    • Choose one subject for the day, for example, on Monday I work with everything related to budget and Tuesday is for project updates.
  2. Prioritization
    • Know your priorities and identify how you will measure progress. Assign deadlines for everything.
    • Identify the most important things for you and mark them on your calendar or agenda with a special color. Develop the habit of working with those first.
  3. Goal Setting
    • You have goals for your business, and you also have personal goals. Keep an eye on both, create the habit of reviewing them periodically.   
    • You cannot work with all at the same time, divide your goals for the year into smaller time buckets. 
    • Prioritize your goals while dividing in buckets, your yearly goals into months, month goals into weeks, and weeks into days.
  4. Planning
    • Be realistic while planning your daily activities. Regardless of how well you organize and plan, things happen.
    • Make time for the unexpected, plan for not more than 4-5 hours of work per day.
    • Remember those priorities? Always know the one thing you need to get done during the day and do it as early as possible.
  5. Communication
    • Communicate your priorities, goals, and plans with your team or family. Let others help you to be on track for success!
  6. Delegation
    • “If something can be done 80% as well by someone else, delegate!” – John C. Maxwell

Remember, working more hours does not make you more productive, neither does multitasking. Work smarter, not harder!