How To Ruthlessly Prioritize Work To Get More Work Done
If you are like most people, you usually start work with the intention of being as productive as possible. Yet, as the day rolls on, you find yourself fielding multiple urgent requests and watching your task list grow. What you initially set out to accomplish always seems to get pushed to the side. Why do you think it is important to prioritize work?
You have got a ton of work to do right now. Your to-do list is an unstructured mess of action items, and you have only got a faint idea how to prioritize tasks. Luckily, there are a few ways to quickly get your to-do list prioritized without much effort. In fact, You can apply one of these methods over the years, and all have their own quirks and considerations. Which one is right for you?
Many of us don’t have a process for prioritizing tasks at work and always feel like we are playing catch-up. We risk missing key deadlines and constantly worry about staying on track. But enough is enough. You can get ahead on the game with some simple methods to set priorities and manage your workload.
To help you manage your team’s workload and hit deadlines, here are seven steps to prioritizing projects that have a lot of moving parts.
Look at your important work and identify what carries the highest value to your business and organization. As a general practice, you want to recognize exactly which types of tasks have top priority over the others.
For example, focus on client projects before internal work; setting up the new CEO’s computer before re-configuring the database and so on. Another way to assess value is to look at how many people are impacted by your work. In general, the more people involved or impacted, the higher the stakes.
Break Your Master List Into Different Levels
Once you have all your tasks stitched together, it’s time to break them down into monthly, weekly and daily goals. However, when setting your priorities, try not to get too “task-oriented”.
Sure, checking items off a list feels good. But you want to make sure you are prioritizing the more effective work. While filling out your lists, remember the 80/20 rule which says that 20% of your efforts tend to produce 80% of your results.
Communicate With Your teammates
Don’t forget to loop in teammates who may be waiting on you to complete a task, or vying for some of your time. By proactively giving teammates updates on task progress, when you plan to complete it, or any delays or blockers that come up, you can cut down on the amount of update requests you receive.
Instead of constantly responding to those requests, you can keep doing your work productively and efficiently.
Pick A Single thing To Focus On
We are getting into ruthless territory now. When you are really struggling to get anything done, you should try this method, even if it is temporary. When you look at your task list, pick a single thing to focus on that day.
It could be one big task you really want to get done, or it could be a theme that relates to several of your tasks, like “increase sales”. Choosing a single task or idea to focus on can be a good way to remind yourself to stay on track whenever you find yourself getting distracted.
Deal With Interruptions
Interruptions are an inevitable part of the work day. Too many interruptions can take a toll on your productivity. And eat up valuable time that could be channeled toward more pressing priorities. When you get interrupted, you lose your momentum and it takes time to get back to a steady working pace or rhythm.
Assess what kind of interruptions you face frequently. Find out if there are specific patterns and come up with solutions to keep the interruptions under control as best as you can. For example, it could be a specific colleague who is always dropping by to chat or you are being pulled into meetings that are not relevant.
Ask For Help
In as much as we would like to confidently handle all our tasks without a hitch, there are moments when this is not feasible. From time to time one needs help in executing tasks. The key thing to bear in mind is not being afraid of requesting help when it is needed.
It is better to ask for help than to miss critical deadlines that could have an impact on your performance, reputation and the company. To make it easier for others to help you, regularly invest in helping your colleagues as well. It creates goodwill. Always remember to sincerely thank anyone who helps you.
Use ABCDE Method
With the ABCDE method, you take that task list you have created, assign each task a letter according to its level of importance, and then tackle tasks accordingly.
This is comparable to giving grades on your tasks, from A (very important), down to E (eliminate whenever possible). Make sure you are always working on your A and B tasks first. Because those are the ones that will make or break your success at work. This is one of the most important aspect to prioritize work.
When you prioritize your work properly, you are guaranteed to have a good day. Hitting the end of the day and seeing that you have knocked out some important work is an amazing feeling. But it’s not always possible. This way you will end the day feeling good about the progress you made and like you can step away and take a well-deserved break.
Well, what works best for you? Let us know how you prioritize your work at firstname.lastname@example.org