Handy Tips for Managers on The Critical Path
handy tips for managers on the critical path

As a manager when you start to feel the pressure of deadlines, an overwhelming number of tasks to do, or an avalanche of emails then you need some help. Keep reading for some handy tips for managers on the critical path.

Two key tips that are useful, and perhaps controversial so may only be useful when the pressure is really hot are:

  • BLUF email formatting style – which may be interpreted as too direct and hence blunt for your organisation. However, it is clear, concsie and gets to the point which is useful in stress situations when you don’t want ambiguity.
  • Eisenhower decision matrix – which may help you stop doing somethings all together and give you time to focus on the top priorities.

Handy Tips for Email Clarity

email clarity a handy tips for managers on the critical path

BLUF - Bottom Line Up Front

This is a style that has a military appearance but can be useful in an organisation where there is a high volume of email, readers are busy so often only check the top of an email in a preview window, and where staff are remote so may need to check with other people for formal approval on a key task or activity. It is easier if a team or organisation are all aware of this style as it may otherwise appear blunt and direct.

BLUF format for an email:

  1. Subject line starts with a clear keyword
  2. Name of the recipient (key when others are added as cc: and action is needed by a person)
  3. Body of email starts with a concise summary, identified with a heading
  4. Body then includes additional information, such as justification or background with detail

Subject Line Should Start with a Keyword

Subject: should start with a keyword, and a compact summary

ACTION – You are expected to do a task a result of this message

INFO or FYI – For your information, no action required

DECISION – Decision required

APPROVAL – Checking for permission ( such as APPROVED or DENIED reply)

Example Email In BLUF Style

Subject: APPROVAL for upgrade of web servers


Bottom line: Approval needed for website upgrade to support volume of users from 1st of June at cost of £123 per month


Current cost is £99 per month, New cost is £222 per month

Users are growing at 11% per month incrementally for the last 11 months

Current website will be unable to support user volume from 1st June

It takes 13 days to effect the change. The IT budget for this year included no provision for this work.

Handy Tips for Prioritisation

Eisenhower Matrix

This is a method for prioritising tasks and the name originates from the belief that US President Eisenhower used it.

eisenhower matrix a handy tips for managers on the critical path
  • Do – Do this task first, as it has clear deadlines and impact if it is not done
  • Decide – Decide when to schedule this to do later, as no immediate time issue

  • Delegate – Delegate this task to someone else, as it needs to be done but can or should be done by someone else

  • Delete – Don’t do this task, as it is a minor distraction of no consequence.


These handy tips for managers on the critical path are also available for download as 1 page reference sheets:

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