Prioritizing your work can be overwhelming for sure. When I begin working with a new client, we discuss many different challenges they are experiencing. But the one that is always near the top of the list is which task needs to be first. Determining the prioritization can be difficult and cause a lot of stress. And if you’re new to goal setting and time management, it can be tough to know how to do this. To help you learn to better prioritize, here are 7 simple steps you can take to reduce your stress levels and improve your productivity.
The first thing you need to do is make a list of everything you need to get done. This includes tasks for clients, tasks for yourself, and other tasks that need to get done to further your work. Exhaust every piece of work you think you need to do. And yes, if you work from home, this will include tasks around your home that could be considered a distraction for you throughout the day. Personally, I add all those – laundry, dishes, floors etc. since I need to get them done as well. I want to know what ALL my tasks are. What about you?
Some tasks need to be done urgently while other tasks aren’t as time sensitive. Take the list you brainstormed and divide the tasks into two categories – urgent vs. not urgent. Urgent things are those that are related to deadlines. An easy and quick way is to simply put a “P” beside those tasks that have a deadline. Your next step will include ideas as to what to do next with the “P” designated tasks.
Prioritizing Your Work by Importance
In addition to knowing what’s important timewise, it’s also important to look at the importance of each task. A task is important if it supports the overall vision of your business and supports bigger goals and priorities. This is where prioritizing your work truly begins.
You will know some tasks are not as important as others but still need to get done. And you may even find there are tasks that aren’t really that important after all and can be deleted from your list. Rank both the urgent, identified with a “P” and those on the not urgent lists by importance. An example is if you have 12 tasks on the urgent list. Rank them P1 thru P12. If you have 9 on the other list, rank them 1 thru 9. The “P” in front communicates they are a priority.
Know Your Limits
Whew! This is a really important piece of the learning to prioritize your work. It will be that you can become overwhelmed if you give yourself an unrealistic number of tasks to complete. Be realistic about what you can accomplish in a given amount of time. Overloading your to do list can cause you to become paralyzed and actually get less done. As they say, “Don’t bite off more than you can chew.” Being conversative with your time means if you are ahead, you can skip forward on your list early.
Set Time Limits for Tasks
If you tend to spend too much time on a task seeking perfection, you need to give yourself time limits, so you won’t focus on one thing for too long while neglecting other tasks. That may mean throwing some of your perfectionism out the window. If you need to, set a timer for intervals of 15 minutes. Focus on one task until the alarm goes off. Then take the next 15 minutes to double check your schedule, address emails, voice mails etc. Then refocus for the next 15 minutes on your next task.
When you feel like you have all the time in the world to complete a project, you’re less likely to get it done in a reasonable amount of time. Set deadlines so you can be motivated to finish in less time and get more done. My mom always has said that if you want something done give it to someone who is busy. This saying refers to the ability of busy people and their time management skills. Or busy people know how to prioritize your work.
Allow Time for Personal Projects
Sometimes you’ll find there are things you want to do for your business that aren’t necessarily critical at the time. Don’t forget to give yourself the time to work on projects you enjoy. When you feel fulfilled and happy, you’ll be more productive. There are days when I put these ‘tasks’ on my list. I do this so I can take a bit of ‘me’ time if I’m feeling overwhelmed.
Are you ready to get prioritizing your work more effectively? Wonderful. These 7 simple steps can make a world of difference in your level of productivity. Remember, when you learn how to prioritize your work, you’ll know which tasks need to be done right away and which ones can wait. In the end you’ll get more done and you’ll feel better about the work that you do.