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Just some ideas:
1. How do you prioritize your tasks?
I prioritize based on the priorities and mission/vision of the company, once I have identified those it makes prioritizing my tasks easier. If the company doesn't have a list of priorities or mission/vision, then I help to establish that based on benefits the organization would receive based on my tasks.
2. How do you pick your priorities?
What is the mission or vision of the company, if it's support, then I will prioritize support tasks first.
Is this an interview for a PM position? If so, then my general statement would be to prioritize based on what is most important to achieving project objectives/success.
This is part of the judgment of a good PM - most that I've met, managed or mentored do this without actually thinking about "how" they do it...
Interesting your question
Thanks for sharing
After the fantastic comments from Juan and Kiron, what more can I add? :-)
There are a variety of factors that may influence prioritization:
Some tasks are mandatory. Others are nice to do but not essential to do. Mandatory takes priority.
Some tasks are prioritized by strategic alignment to business goals, like safety first.
Some tasks are on the critical path. Other tasks can be done at any time with no schedule impact.
Some tasks can be completed quickly and give the team quick victories. Those may take priority over tasks supporting long drawn out activities with questionable outcomes.
As an addendum to my earlier response, if you wish a more analytical method, you could:
1. Do pairwise sorting (e.g. is Task A more important than Task B?)
2. Do a quantitative ranking using something like Cost of Delay/Effort required (a.k.a. Weighted Shortest Job First)
Good ideas so far.
Practically I would add
- Eisenhowers urgent/important marix
- making it a habit to prioritize every morning
- being aware when you are most effective working on priorities
And philiosophical be aware that setting priorities is decision making - so be aware of your biases, gather data to reduce risk, understand decision making techniques like group decision making etc
Priorities about what? The schedule drive the priorities. Perhaps I did not understand your question.
Assuming that your question relates to tasks in a project, then you should analyze dependencies between tasks. As PMBOK (section 22.214.171.124, Sixth Edition) points out, there are 4 attributes as Mandatory, Discretionary, Internal and External that you can use to analyze your task dependencies. These should be used in combination with analyzing the urgent/important, value, and risk associated with each task.
Importance, dependency, risk, sponsor/customer request and the list goes on.
I agree with Kiron.
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