If you’re feeling overwhelmed by your to-do list, consider the following framework to prioritize your goals.
It’s a tale as old as time... You want to be able to get all of your work done (and done well!), but the list just keeps piling up. Despite all your best efforts, you’re standing at the bottom of a mountain of deadlines, unsure where you should even begin.
“What was the end goal again?” you ask yourself.
Along the way, you might have forgotten the exact purpose of all these tasks in the first place. When you’ve been inundated with work, and don’t have enough resources to action everything at once, it can feel wildly overwhelming.
The key is to set up a game plan that’ll keep you on track — regardless of what might block your path forward. Do this before you continue taking action, so that wherever you are in your workload, you’ll have a priority established to achieve your actual goals.
Know the “Three Horizon” framework
This framework is defined as a way to conceptualize your business goals in the short-term, mid-term and long-term, as well as where you should be dividing your attention.
Think about it in terms of investing... You generally wouldn’t go putting all your funds into one stock. In this case, instead of money, you’re investing your time and energy to achieve various goals. After all, time IS money, isn’t it?
If you were only to work on the big picture and long-term goals, how would you get there without actioning the short and mid-term tasks? The Three Horizon model was developed by Bill Sharpe, originally as an alternative to generic roadmapping. It enables you to see as if from a mountain range, a holistic view of the journey your business needs to take.
Let’s take a look at all three horizons:
Start at Horizon one
The first horizon is what you need to accomplish in the present that will help you reach your operating goals. It’s the daily work, the things that need to get done on a regular basis to keep business running smoothly. Getting into the nitty-gritty, it helps to categorize your list of daily tasks to know what should be done and in what order.
Horizon one should take up a majority of your schedule with 70% of regular time and effort. Simply using the following diagram commonly known as the Eisenhower matrix can make all the difference:
Horizon three, already?!
Wait, aren’t we out of order? Yes, because horizon three is actually the second most important step. Even though it should only have 10% of your attention during your day-to-day activities, a little focus on this can go a long way.
The third horizon consists of your goals and objectives for the future, where you want your business to go and what you see for your industry. Having a plan for horizon three helps you stay connected with your long-term goals without sacrificing what needs to get done today.
What goals has your company set up for the year? What are the big picture items that want to be achieved? For marketers, this also means setting up your long-term content plan that will help facilitate your activities in the first horizon to make sure it’s in line with your end goal.
Back to Horizon two
Horizon two acts as a bridge between the first and third. It brings them together to outline all of the work that connects day-to-day activities with how it will affect the future. This horizon should take up the last 20% of your time.
Just because you’re completing your short-term deliverables doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll be achieving those long-term goals. You need to be able to link your efforts together. Depending on how far ahead in advance your business sets its goals, this can mean actioning to hit those quarterly benchmarks or ideating new campaigns. You can detail in a document the various tasks on your to-do list that fall under each horizon and divide your days/weeks accordingly. That way you’ll be able to meet the overarching purpose you see in the third horizon more easily.
So how can this help your marketing efforts?
It’s easy for marketers to get pulled into other aspects of the business. (How many random meetings are on my calendar???) All of a sudden you’re helping sales with leads or diving into customer service issues.
Using this method will help ensure that your marketing efforts get completed more efficiently and effectively.
“The three horizons framework as a means to visualize, allocate resources to, and conceptualize the priorities of your business. As a business, there will be points where you will need to make hard choices. Choosing to prioritize a particular goal or use a particular strategy above another doesn’t always devalue the other option. Rather, having multiple options or sets of secondary priorities can help inform future decisions or directions you decide to take as a business.”
— HubSpot leading CRM company
It might seem daunting to start, especially when you already have so much to do. But finally sitting down and laying out everything you need to action will help you visualize exactly what needs to be done — in the perfect order, and on the right day and time.
Titan Creative Inc. is a creative and digital agency helping clients across North America drive results.
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