No, you don't need to do everything on your to-do list

In today's rapidly changing work environment, leaders can have a difficult time managing the ever-expanding list of priorities, David Hutchins writes for Ed Tech magazine.

And while challenges are an everyday occurrence for leaders, an overwhelming number of to-do items can keep you from identifying and tackling the most important tasks, warns Hutchins, the vice president of higher education at CDW•G.

Hutchins offers two ways to focus on what truly matters when you're getting pulled in every direction.

Know your risk attitude

According to project management expert Antonio Nieto-Rodriquez, leaders who are risk-averse may feel compelled to tackle every task that threatens a project's success. But those who have a higher risk tolerance may be more comfortable placing minor threats on the backburner and tackling the pressing issues first, he explains.

Wherever you sit on the risk-aversion spectrum, you likely still have more high-priority items than you can realistically manage, Hutchins writes. But if you know your risk orientation, you can better evaluate your judgement of a task's urgency, he notes.

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Consider the big picture

Every priority you tackle should clearly align to your organization's strategic vision, Hutchins writes.

According to Moira Alexander, another project management expert, viewing strategic goals from an institutional perspective will help leaders evaluate the relative importance of each priority. The big-picture context of firm strategy helps leaders understand the "why" behind specific projects, she explains.

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So if certain tasks make a stronger impact on a firm's competitive advantage or financial performance, a leader may want to prioritize those tasks over less impactful ones, Hutchins notes.

Hutchins argues that getting a handle on your to-do list not only helps you regain your sense of control—it can also help your team prioritize better, too (Hutchins, Ed Tech, 10/6).

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