Regardless of whether you are a student, work at home mom, a web designer, or a CEO of a Fortune 500 company, prioritising your work is critical to your success. Failing to prioritise your work load usually results in being extremely inefficient and extremely stressed out. How many times have you thought to yourself “I have so much to do today, how am I ever going to get it all done?”
There is no exact science to prioritising, but there are several tips that should help you become a more efficient, less stressed version of your current self:
Make a list – this may seem obvious but you’d be surprised at how many people try to organise their tasks in their head. You’ll often find that you feel a lot better just getting everything out so that you can see it in one place.
Consider time constraints – what absolutely needs to get done today and what can wait until tomorrow or next week. Everything may be important eventually, but some things are more important now.
Consider people constraints – all things equal, move things that other people are waiting on to the top of the list. If you know that your manager can’t finish his proposal without your part, that’s more important than the thing that you always do on Wednesday that could just as well be done on Thursday.
Consider the consequences – are you going to get fired if you don’t do something? Is another task going to give you the inside track on that promotion? Those things should be more important than mildly inconveniencing the sales manager by responding to their email a day late.
Re-prioritise 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 doing? Then get it off the list. It doesn’t belong there.
Don’t list EVERYTHING – only list crucial tasks. You don’t need to list routine tasks (like lunch) or menial tasks (like checking your email). Also, you’re going into too much detail if you put down prioritising as a task.
Do everything you can to keep your list small – this means saying NO sometimes. You are not other people’s gopher. Do your work and help other people with theirs when you have something to offer, but don’t do their work for them. Along the same lines, learn to delegate things to the people that are supposed to be doing them. Why book your plane tickets when you have an assistant for that?