The adage says, “We all have the same 24 hours a day”. Yes, it’s a cliche, and it likely more annoying than helpful – but it is true. We can’t create more time out of thin air, but we can use it more effectively. That is why prioritising your tasks is so important. Knowing what you should be working on and when you should be doing it will only increase your productivity. If you want to learn more about prioritising your tasks, read these nine tips:
- What is Worth Prioritising?
First off, you need to figure out what is truly important to you. The tasks you prioritise should reflect your core values. If you are laser-focused on your career, then career tasks are naturally more important. If you are family-first, then you may rank those tasks higher in priority.
- Make a List
A great way to start prioritising is making a list of everything you want to accomplish. You can focus on the short-term, long-term, or even better – both. Don’t worry about editing as you go; focus on thinking of as many goals/tasks/todos as you can.
- Rank Your Priorities List by Urgency
Take the list of priorities you create and rank the tasks by urgency. This usually means ranking the tasks when they are due, but don’t forget your core values. A typical way of breaking these lists up is three categories: Urgent (complete ASAP), Important (need to address soon, Leisure (can focus on these in your free time).
- Break Your Large Tasks into Smaller Pieces
You should strive to break your large tasks down. This makes the task more manageable and lets you have more control over the moving parts. Some smaller parts of your large task might need to be completed earlier than others. It is easier to prioritise when you know this.
- Delegate What You Can
Why waste time prioritising the tasks you don’t even need to do. Figure out if any of your tasks can be delegated or outsourced. This will save you time and energy. You can focus on the more important priorities while the smaller details are handled by someone else.
- Set Deadlines for Each Task
Set some deadlines for each of your tasks. Simply setting a deadline has been shown to help people follow through. Try to set your deadlines a little earlier than you need. This will help you stay ahead of things and gives you a buffer if you can’t deliver.
- Look For Opportunities for Growth
An interesting, if a somewhat esoteric tip is to focus on tasks that grant you growth opportunities. We must continue to broaden our horizons and skillset, so focusing on tasks that help you do this makes sense. If all else is equal, but one task allows you to learn something new, or update your current skills, choose that one.
- Start With Your Most Important Task
Another classic tip that you might have heard referred to as “eat the frog.” The idea here is that you start with your most important task, that way you know you at least finished that. Some people choose their most hated task as well. The same idea applies, though; it’s all about getting it over with ASAP.
- …or Don’t
Contrary to the last tip, sometimes you are so unmotivated that you don’t have the energy to tackle anything important. If that feels like you, then start with the absolute easiest, no-brainer task you can. Sometimes doing that is enough to build your momentum so you can tackle the high-priority stuff.