When you are working on a particular task or a set of tasks for a period of time, you will most likely come up with a to-do list. When your list includes at least half a dozen line items, it is common for us to find it difficult to know which ones to do first and which ones to do last. Mind you, your to-do list can be overwhelming and even stressful to you.
A very important aspect of task management tackles on knowing how to prioritize tasks. If you do not know how to distinguish the important ones from the ones that are not, or the urgent ones from the ones that are not, then you will most likely have difficulty getting the job done on time, without compromising the value of the results.
There are many ways to set priorities. Some people make use of methods and processes, while others make use of programs and tools to assist them. What we are going to focus on here are tips and guidelines on how you can do this properly.
Guidelines on How to Prioritize Tasks
Here is how you can effectively prioritize your tasks. First, you need to have a list; not a virtual one, but a written list of things you need to do. If you rely on your memory, you might just forget. Do not make your list too long as it would only overwhelm you. Around five or six “to-do” at a time is recommended.
Second, once you have the list written down, go over them one by one and cross out the ones that are not really necessary. This elimination phase needs to be undergone because we simply cannot do too many things at a time.
Ask yourself, “Do I really need to work on this urgently?” “Is there anyone else who can do this besides me?” Delegate if possible so that you can focus only on the ones that need to be addressed.
Once you have eliminated the tasks that you can do away with, it is time to prioritize. Start with the ones that are urgent and important, followed by those that are not urgent, but important. Also, it is best that you always set a deadline for each item listed in your to-do list.
Tips on Prioritizing Tasks
On top of knowing how to prioritize, you should also be familiar with the tips that many executives use to help them become more effective in this part of task management. These are as follows:
1. Make decisions when your mind is fresh and alert. When you are too tired from the day’s activities, deciding on which ones are to be prioritized and which ones should be taken out can be a daunting task and may prove to be too much for a tired brain. It might end up with you making the wrong decisions.
2. Know how to prioritize interruptions. Did it ever occur to you that while you can prioritize tasks, you can also prioritize interruptions? Now you know. These things eat up your time without you realizing it. Know which ones you should allow, but also be firm enough to set limits especially when it comes to time.
3. Avoid worrying about things you have no control over. Many people waste their time worrying about things or events that they have no influence on- those that they cannot change. Instead of wasting time on these, work instead on things and events that you have the capacity to change and do something about.
Advantages of Knowing How to Prioritize
It does not take a genius to see how prioritizing can truly benefit anyone. Think about it; we all have 24 hours a day, and yet, why is it that some people can do so much more than others? It is all about knowing what your priorities are and making sure you address them first before the rest. If you can do this consistently, then there is no doubt that you can be very productive at work and be able to finish everything that is necessary to complete a task, at a given time.
When you know how to prioritize, task management should not be a problem for you. Follow the guidelines and tips mentioned and you will be on your way to becoming effective at managing tasks.