Task Prioritization

visual management

Visual Management for Leaders | Dr. Will Ramey

Visual Management for Leaders | Dr. Will Ramey 800 600 OnTheStacks

visual management

Research Backed Approaches to Leadership and Team Dynamics with Dr. Will Ramey, The Leadership Dr.

Visual Management: Making your tasks visible, knowing what needs started, and what’s in process pays dividends when it comes to where you are spending your time, effort, and energy. We provide how to get started with a simple and effective approach to visual management of your tasks. Let’s get into it!

The Time Vortex

Team leaders get pulled in a hundred different directions throughout the day. One conversation sparks another conversation which leads to a new task that requires a phone call which turns into…wait…what was I planning to do today?

As a team leader your responsibility increases as does your span of control. You are no longer an individual contributor. What doesn’t increase is the amount of time you have to get things done. Your team needs your time. Your peers need your time. YOU need your time. How can you keep track of your priorities, know what you and your team are working on, and when to celebrate accomplishments? Let me introduce you to the “To-Do, Doing, Done” board.

The To-Do, Doing, Done board operates on the Kanban principle. This principle is aimed to do work just-in-time and reduce waste. It is a visual management tool used to identify what works needs to be done. This simple and effective visual management tool can be applied to your priority task list to reduce wasted energy and cognitive load from continuously switching tasks, trying to recall what needs started, what is in process, and what is done. Make work visible, limit the amount of work in progress, and celebrate the wins when work gets done.

Get Started with Your Board

You can get started with something as simple as a whiteboard with sticky notes or go high tech with the use of an app. Whatever method you choose must be easy for you to access, be clear with what is in what column and be visible to you throughout your day. I prefer high touch/low tech solutions. For this approach you will need a pad of sticky notes, a marker or pen, and a board that you can write on.

1. Divide your board into three columns labeled: To-Do, Doing, Done

2. Determine the time span that you want your board to represent. To get started it can represent a daily board. If it’s not too overwhelming you can set your board up as a weekly board. This means that the tasks in your To-Do column should be able to move through the Do and to the Done column by the end of your week.

3. On the sticky pads write down your tasks, one per sticky. Ensure your tasks are clear and concise. They should be single steps. If you have a big project, break the tasks down into a single step.

4. Review your tasks. Write down an estimate of how long the task should take to complete. Determine how many of these tasks you can tackle based on the time range of your board.

5. Stick all your notes on the board in the To-Do column based on their priority.

6. Move the first couple over to the Doing column and get busy!

7. When you complete a task move it from Doing to Done. Them pull the next task over from To-Do into the Doing column.

8. Repeat until all your tasks are in the Done column.

There are a number of customizations you can make. You can color code your sticky notes based on the Eisenhower Matrix priority list. Learn more about how to use the Eisenhower Matrix here: Eisenhower Matrix for Prioritizing Tasks 

You can use this board for tasks that you assign to team members too. Be sure to write the person you assigned the task to on the sticky note. As you move through this process you will add new tasks to your To-Do column and archive the completed tasks from you Done column.

Benefits of the Board

As a team leader you can use the tasks in the done column as a way to celebrate the accomplishments of your team. You can also add a column called “Reflect”. These would represent completed tasks that you want to circle back to your team on so you can learn more; What went well? What needs to change? Being a team leader can take a toll on you. There never seems to be enough time in the day to get everything done and spend time with your team.

The good news is that putting systems in place to make what you are working on visual you will have the benefit of focus and control. This system helps to eliminate distractions. By making team tasks visible you can engage with your team through follow ups and collaboration. It also provides a visual reminder of what you are doing and contributing to help push your team forward and meet the organizations goals. Now, get out there and get started!

Interested in learning how to reclaim control of your time and feel less stressed when you look at your calendar? Check out my virtual course Prioritize & Execute – Leadership Development

Reach out to connect on LinkedIn Dr. William Ramey | LinkedIn

One or more links below contain an affiliate link, which if you make a purchase, we will earn a commission that helps us keep the mics on!

Scale your content 10X Faster with Jasper, your AI writing assistant! Try Jasper for FREE – Click Here!

young professional conference Wilkes-Barre


Want to learn more about Dr. Will Ramey?! Watch his episode from the OnTheStacks Podcast here:

Subscribe to the OnTheStacks Podcast here:

OnTheStacks Podcast

Want to read more written content by OnTheStacks? Click here!

Follow us on social media:

YouTube Facebook Instagram LinkedIn Twitter TikTok Website

The Big Rock Theory: What Really Matters

The Big Rock Theory: What Really Matters | Dr. Will Ramey

The Big Rock Theory: What Really Matters | Dr. Will Ramey 800 600 OnTheStacks

The Big Rock Theory: What Really Matters

Research Backed Approaches to Leadership and Team Dynamics with Dr. Will Ramey, The Leadership Dr.

Applying the Big Rock Theory to how you approach leadership leads to less feeling of overwhelm, a higher sense of control, and more time being spent on what matters most. We share how to sort through the big rocks, the pebbles, and the sand at work so you can maximize your day as a leader and be the best for your team. Let’s get into it!

Where Did My Time Go?

As a team leader have you ever asked yourself “Where did my day go?” or “What on earth did I accomplish today?” After asking yourself that question the feeling of frustration or disappointment tends to wash over you. Not completing tasks or accomplishing what we set out to accomplish in our day can lead to feelings of frustration and inferiority. This feeling cues our follow-on behavior. What do leaders tend do…roll up our sleeves to work harder, which typically means longer hours, working through breaks, or taking work home.

None of these solutions are optimal. What is a team leader to do? Take a step back and breathe for a moment. Leaders should take time to look at their day, identify what is most important, and know where to place their efforts for maximum impact. How can leaders identify what is most important to least important?

The Big Rock Theory

As the story goes, a time management expert was speaking to a group of new team leaders. He stood in front of the group and pulled out a large mason-jar and set it down on the podium. He produced about a dozen rocks and placed them, one at a time, into the jar. When the jar was filled to the top and no more rocks would fit inside, he asked, “Is this jar full?” Everyone in the group said, “Yes.” Then he said, “Really?”

He reached behind the podium and pulled out a bucket of pebbles. He dumped them in and shook the jar, so the pebbles worked their way into the space between the rocks. Again, he asked the group, “Is the jar full?” By this time the leaders began to understand. “I don’t think so,” one of them answered. “Good!” he replied.

He reached behind the podium for a bucket of sand and started dumping the sand in the jar. It went into all of the spaces left between the rocks and the pebbles. “Is this jar full?”, He asked. “No!”, the leaders shouted. “Good.”, he said. He grabbed a pitcher of water and poured it in until the jar was filled to the brim.

He looked at the group and asked, “What is the point of this illustration?” One leader raised their hand and said, “No matter how full your schedule is, if you try really hard you can always fit some more things in it!” “No,” the speaker replied, “that’s not the point. The truth is: If you don’t put the big rocks in first, you’ll never get them in at all.”

Identify Your Big Rocks, Pebbles, and Sand

1. Identify what the ‘big rocks’ are. Performance conversations? Recognition for a team member? Presentation to the CEO? Ask yourself – What absolutely must get done today that is impactful and meaningful? What does your team need from you today? Where does your team need YOU most today?

2. What are those pebbles? These are the tasks that you need to get done but are less urgent and less important than your big rocks. Think about administrative functions. Actions that are necessary to keep the team moving but aren’t necessarily making big impacts or overly time sensitive. Are these tasks that could be delegated to your team members? Or maybe they need done but it can wait until the end of the day.

3. Where is the sand? These tasks are the least important and least urgent but tend to be time detractors. Do I really need to reply to this email right now? Does this article that was just forwarded need read immediately? These are the tasks that can either be scheduled for later, delegated to someone else, or maybe even deleted from doing at all.

The hidden benefits of identifying your big rocks

1. The feeling of overwhelm will go down as you funnel down where you are spending your time.

2. Your sense of purpose will increase knowing you are prioritizing work where you have the most impact for your team.

3. You will have more time for connecting with your team as you begin to make a habit of prioritizing your tasks day to day, week to week, and month to month.

I learned this approach as a young Lieutenant in the Army leading a team of 114 Soldiers responsible for maintenance operations, both in garrison and deployed to Iraq. I needed awareness of what was going on, but everything could not be a priority for me. If everything was a priority and waited for me, it would bottleneck. Instead, I needed to understand where to spend my time and where to take risks, delegate, and schedule tasks accordingly.

I doubled down and put this method to work when I became a Senior Leader of larger teams. Time is a finite resource. As a team leader you have more demands on your time, especially as your team grows in size and responsibility. Prepare yourself to overcome the stress and challenge of time management as a team leader.

Remember to put the BIG ROCKS in first or you’ll never get them in at all. Stay focused. The next article will explain just how to prioritize tasks once you identified the big rocks and pebbles that need done.

Interested in learning how to reclaim control of your time and feel less stressed when you look at your calendar? Join my waitlist for my upcoming program: Prioritize and Execute to Focus on Meaningful Work by Dr. Will Ramey (maven.com)

Reach out to connect on LinkedIn Dr. William Ramey | LinkedIn

If you find value and enjoy our content, smash that YouTube Subscribe button here:

OnTheStacks YouTube Channel

Want to see more OnTheStacks Content?

Follow us everywhere on social media:

YouTube Facebook | Instagram LinkedIn Twitter TikTok Website

Privacy Preferences

When you visit our website, it may store information through your browser from specific services, usually in the form of cookies. Here you can change your Privacy preferences. It is worth noting that blocking some types of cookies may impact your experience on our website and the services we are able to offer.

Click to enable/disable Google Analytics tracking code.
Click to enable/disable Google Fonts.
Click to enable/disable Google Maps.
Click to enable/disable video embeds.
Our website uses cookies, mainly from 3rd party services. Define your Privacy Preferences and/or agree to our use of cookies.