How do you know what to work on? Engineering your Priorities

Do you find yourself often overwhelmed with the many, many things you have to do?  How do you choose what to put energy into?  How can you compare what is the more important thing, when the activities seem so diverse?  How do you justify not doing one thing and doing another instead?  This is where an engineering brain can help a marketer.  Engineers have this figured out: I bring you Engineering Prioritization.

Here is how an Engineer (myself) prioritizes, and how I apply it to Marketing work now:

  1. Calculate the estimated amount of time it will take to finish any given task or project.
  2. Calculate the expected financial contribution (savings or revenue) for completing the task/project.
  3. Use a “rough” discounted cash-flow model to estimate the impact in today’s dollars.
    1. Here is a rough way to do Present Value calculation, for an engineer.
    2. Present Value = Future Value – $2,500 * Num_Weeks
    3. If task/project is less than 1-Week, PV=FV
  4. What task will make the biggest impact for the least amount of effort? (highest Present Value)
  5. DO THAT!  If you need a break, do something that takes just a few minutes.
  6. Break long projects into 45min-2hr tasks;;; do those!
It sounds simple, but do you actually try to calculate the PV of your tasks?
Yes. I do.  
AND, You’d be shocked at how many tasks I’m assigned generate PV=0.
AND, You’d be shocked at how few of those tasks I ever do!
The 1 thing in marketing that can sometimes screw this up is research/data gathering/analysis….
to calculate a PV of these kinds of tasks, you must consider WHAT key variable are you looking for, such that if found, you could make an influence and thereby increase profits or save costs (thereby yielding a positive PV)… then I just cut that by 50%.. it’s seems like it’s usually a  50/50 effort to find data you need to make a good decision anyway.
So; get out there. calculate the potential PV of your work;and SKIP things that don’t add value.