Being in business today means that you have a lot on your plate, it’s as simple as that. Yet, with so many tasks piling up, it can be challenging to prioritize them all so you can figure out where to start. Below, we go over some strategies you can use to make sense out of all the tasks you have on your day and reach a point of productivity.
1. Eliminate Non-Starters
If you are not currently able to work on a particular task, it shouldn’t be on your to-do list. Therefore, you need to identify which of your compiled tasks you are actually able to complete, and which you can’t do for reasons outside of your control. Once you have determined these, remove them from your to-do list consideration, or make a point of following up on them. These kinds of tasks will likely only frustrate you and slow you down.
2. Rank Your Tasks by Importance and Urgency
Let’s all be honest here - there are tasks that we all just don’t want to do, which means that there is going to be the temptation to procrastinate doing them until the very last possible moment, hoping that we’ll have the time when it’s down to the wire. However, there are also tasks that unequivocally must be done within a certain timeframe. Yet, even when these two categories overlap, the urge is still there to push back the unwanted task. Resist it - the negative consequences of missing a deadline would be far worse than some frustration now.
3. Determine a Task’s Value
This is related somewhat to the importance and urgency consideration. What item on your to-do list will deliver the greatest benefit to the company as a whole, and a bit more importantly, to your clientele? Alternatively, which task will cause the greatest fallout if it isn’t completed in a timely fashion? By comparing each item on your list to one another in this way, you can arrange them so that the work gets done in the order it needs to.
4. What Does the Boss Want?
What does the person immediately above you in the company hierarchy see to be the priority? Whether or not you necessarily agree with them is moot. They are in charge, so if they want things to be done in a certain way, or certain objectives to take precedence over others, that is their prerogative. This is not to say that you necessarily do things in the order they tell you without question, either. If you see a way to do things that is better, pitch it to them - just make sure you have your counterpoints prepared for the ensuing fallout.
This deciding factor works at all levels of an organization, from entry all the way up to the executive suite. After all, the boss’ boss in any organization is, to a point, the customer.
5. What Are You Ready to Tackle?
It is also important to remember that you’re only human, and there are going to be those days that you just aren’t ready to dive into a big, important project first thing. Knowing your own limits and working style will help you to understand how your time is best spent, which is really the most important factor to productivity.
On a related note, you also want to remember that businesses are dynamic things, and you may suddenly be presented with an urgent, high-priority task - something that your team needs right now. Remaining adaptable and able to pivot between responsibilities is an important talent to develop in business.
Again, it is all about the work that you are prepared to do in the moment. If small tasks need to take precedence over large ones because that’s the only way anything will get done, so be it.