Last updateWed, 13 Jun 2018 12am

Making the most of every opportunity : How to manage your workload so the important gets done first


We recently completed a very successful two day workshop for a number of our clients. There was a lot of good information covered including understanding sales reports better, managing staff and cash-flow, and guest presenters discussing strategies to improve the return on marketing investment. Most store owners were buzzing with the information being discussed, but one common theme came through from most of the participants: “This material is great… only problem is when am I going to find time to do all this?”

It’s a situation we can all relate to. This is not an uncommon problem in an era where information and ideas are freely available. E-mail, designed to speed up the process and save time in distributing information has become the new in-tray, overloaded to bursting point. I recently read that there are over 300 billion e-mails sent per day – 42 for every man, woman and child on the planet. Take out those 3rd world countries that don’t have the internet as a right of passage and it’s easy to see why the typical business owner would be receiving over 100 e-mails per day.

Much of it is good information. I receive many invitations to events, webinars and seminars, most excellent and well worth attending. But I make only a few of them - the problem is usually a matter of time.

Yet just one idea from one event can have the capacity to make huge changes to your business. We recently had a client attend one of our conferences who had been to previous events we had. She had heard me talk often about reordering her fast selling items, but had never got around to it. This time the message struck home and she took action upon her return – the impact on her sales has already been profound.

There is a term for all the new and improved things happening in the world – it’s being known as innovation overload. There are more good ideas being created than time to implement them. This can lead to becoming overwhelmed. The easy response is to do nothing, but the result of that is you are missing opportunities to progress.

One of the best exercises we completed in our workshop is the ease impact grid. Each participant lists the innovations they want to implement then gives a rating from 1 to 10 on the basis of how easy it is to implement (1 being difficult and 10 being simple) and a score from 1-10 for the expected impact on sales and profitability (1 being minor and 10 being significant). By plotting the results on a grid it becomes easy to tell visually which tasks should get the most focus.

Once you’ve completed this exercise for each of a number of tasks it becomes easier to prioritize. One of the best methods I have heard for this is the ABCDE method, and it consists of the following:

A - 1st priority

B - 2nd priority

C - 3rd priority

D - Delegate

E - Eliminate

In simple terms the items that you must do become the A, B and C. The most important are the As, followed by the Bs, then the Cs. The prioritizing must be done on the basis of what offers the best return for your time and effort. Always remember to focus on the important rather than the urgent.

The Ds are items that may still be important, but don’t have to be performed by you, or a large percentage of the work can be carried out by someone else. For example you may decide to clear some of your old inventory in a sale. You might want to organize the pricing, but the job of locating the items can be left to a staff member.

The Es are the things you don’t need to do. Run your eye down a To Do list if you keep one and ask yourself what things you really need to do at all. You can often eliminate 20% or more of a To Do list when you ask the question “If this item didn’t get done would there be any consequences?”

Don’t let innovation overload stand in the way of having your business deliver its full potential.

David Brown is President of the Edge Retail Academy, an organization devoted to the ongoing measurement and growth of jewelry store performance and profitability. For further information about the Academy’s management mentoring and industry benchmarking reports contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 877-569-8657.