No matter if you are a student, work at home mom, web designer or CEO of a Fortune 500 company, prioritizing your work is critical to your success. Failing to prioritize your workload usually results in you being extremely inefficient and extremely stressful. How many times have you thought to yourself “I have so much to do today, how am I going to do it all?”
There is no exact science to prioritizing, but there are several tips that should help you become a more efficient and less stressed version of your current self:
- Make a list – This may sound obvious but you’d be surprised how many people try to organize their tasks in their heads. You’ll often find that you feel much better just taking everything out so you can see it in one place.
- Consider time constraints – what absolutely needs to be done today and what can wait until tomorrow or next week. Everything may matter in the end, but some things are even more important now.
- Consider people’s limitations – all things being equal, move the things other people are waiting for to the top of the list. If you know your boss can’t finish his proposal without your part, that’s more important than the thing you always do on Wednesday that can also be done on Thursday.
- Consider the consequences – will you be fired if you do nothing? Will another assignment give you the inside track for this promotion? These things should be more important than slightly annoying the sales manager by replying to his email a day late.
- Re-prioritize as necessary — let’s face it, priorities change. As they do, update your list. It will give you a sense of control over the situation.
- Remove Unimportant Items – Is there something on your list that you always push to the bottom and never end up with? Then remove it from the list. don’t belong there.
- Don’t list everything – just make a list of critical tasks. You don’t need to list routine tasks (like lunch) or menial tasks (like checking your email). Also, you go into a lot of detail if you put prioritization as a task.
- Do everything you can to keep your list small – and that means saying no sometimes. You are not the other gopher. Do your work and help others with their work when you have something to offer, but don’t do their work for them. In the same vein, learn to delegate things to the people who are supposed to do them. Why book your plane tickets when you can have an assistant?