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What Is The Best Way To Prioritize Tasks? (And Stop Getting Crushed By Your Workload)

If you’re feeling overloaded at work, it’s likely that you’re having trouble with the way you prioritize tasks.

And, hey, it’s fine!

Prioritization is an undervalued ability that is rarely taught explicitly.

Having a plan of attack for your workload, on the other hand, can help you stop the cycle of missed deadlines and persistent stress that comes with falling behind.

This is especially true if you are simultaneously managing many projects and team members.

What’s the good news? Rethinking how you approach your work is all it takes to take charge of your tasks.

We’ve got you covered, whether your current projects are crushing you or you’re continually playing catch-up. The eight methods outlined below will assist you in determining how to prioritise tasks.

prioritize tasks

1. Make a list of all of your responsibilities (big, small, immediate, and long-term)

First and foremost, you must get all of your to-dos off your mind and into paper.

Or, in the majority of cases, the screen.

Begin by making a list of all the things you need to do and arranging them into categories like:

  • Daily tasks: Day-to-day responsibilities include meetings, check-ins, and reacting to communications.
  • Weekly tasks: Action items linked to client deadlines, presentations, or project milestones are included in weekly tasks.
  • Month-plus tasks: Concentrating on projects and goals that are longer-term in nature. Your burden will feel less overwhelming after you list your duties as discrete things. Knowing what you have on your plate plays a big role in how you prioritise chores.

This is when a product like RisePath PlanCentral is quite useful.

Personal tasks are useful since you have your project duties, which are visible to the entire team, immediately beneath your completely private personal tasks. Your team’s tasks should ideally be made public for the sake of organisation and accountability.

You can document your schedule and have a clear knowledge of deadlines by using a board view (Kanban board) for your tasks.

2. Figure out which tasks are genuinely critical (and what can wait)

Let’s imagine you’re staring at a to-do list that’s a mile long. So, what’s next?

Pay attention: not all tasks are created equal.

When we don’t know how to prioritise tasks, we tend to drift toward less urgent, low-reward chores.

Consider what is known as the “simple urgency effect.” In short, research reveals that people frequently strive to meet deadlines without evaluating the effects or why they’re doing so.

As a result, there is a lot of frenzied effort that has no rhyme or reason. Right now, you’re undoubtedly facing a slew of deadlines, right?

However, chances are that on any given day, your list of “must-do” things is fairly short.

If you want to organise your calendar and stay productive, you’ll need to take a step back and figure out what’s genuinely important. The more critical something is, the more urgent it becomes.

The following are some of the most important factors that impact the relevance of a task:

  • “Who is the one who has an impact?” Is a task, for example, only going to affect you? Who are your customers? What is the name of your department or company?
  • “What will be the benefit or result of doing this task?” Do you have a new client contract? More money in the bank? Is it possible that a project will be completed ahead of schedule?
  • “What are the consequences of failing to complete the task?” Clients lost or revenue lost? Have you made any progress on a project?

These elements, in addition to your own personal assessment, serve as a more objective way to prioritise assignments. Completing a team presentation or getting ready for a new customer meeting, for example, should take precedence over a check-in email or non-time-sensitive research.

3. Create a schedule that reflects your top priorities.

There are no surprises here.

Perhaps you’re now stressed out by your workload and want to avoid burnout in the future. It’s critical to create an actual timetable if you want to improve your performance over time.

You’ve already completed the majority of the work if you’ve organised your tasks and prioritised them appropriately.

Building a timetable might help you plan ahead for potentially busy weeks and get a head start on your top priorities before they snowball. It helps to be able to prioritise your projects by tier when you combine internal deadlines with external due dates from your clients or team. Then you’ll be able to effectively respond to the question, “What should I be working on right now?”

4. Prioritize your most demanding, high-effort assignments.

This is referred to as “eating the frog” by some.

The idea is simple: start with the most difficult and time-consuming chores.

Once you’ve knocked ’em out, you’ll be able to maintain your productivity. After you’ve completed your “ugly” duties, you can move on to shorter, less annoying tasks. Your momentum is maintained by riding the dopamine rushes that come from finishing task after task.

This is why so many people put off doing their tedious or useless duties until the end of the day. However, your capacity to do so is contingent on your ability to create a timetable and prioritise things based on their relevance.

5. Concentrate on a single task at a time (hint: try not to multitask)

Multitasking could appear to be a good idea, right?

However, trying to complete too many chores at once will lead to burnout.

Only around 2.5 percent of adults can multitask efficiently, according to a survey. Juggling a variety of obligations and jobs on a daily basis results in bad results for the rest of us. 

And this is especially true in the workplace. If you’re continually switching between programmes, documents, and email, you’re probably not getting any work done.

In terms of productivity, we recognise that everyone is different. However, if you want to stay focused at work, we recommend addressing one task at a time.

To “break up” those tiresome jobs that really take a toll on your brain, you can employ tactics like time chunking or the Pomodoro technique.

6. Make sure you give yourself enough time to complete any given assignment.

Task prioritisation and time management are inextricably linked.

You could be the one to blame if you’re continuously pressed for time. On the other hand, your timetable may be unmanageable because your bosses are unaware of the magnitude of your work.

Have you kept track of how long your day-to-day tasks take you? Are you making educated guesses or relying on actual data?

Rushing to reach arbitrary deadlines and milestones isn’t simply a negative look for you; it also leads to substandard work.

Writing a blog article or putting together a presentation, for example, takes different amounts of time for different people. There are several elements that affect those same deadlines, such as depth and length.

You’ll struggle to prioritise projects, keep to a schedule, and meet deadlines until you put your task time under the microscope. 

7. Recognize what you can (and can’t) realistically accomplish.

This is a simple suggestion, but one that is well worth addressing.

The day has a limited number of hours. Be prepared to drop it or put it off until tomorrow when you’re fresh if you find yourself stressed out over a minor task or anything that’s causing a major mental block.

We’re not suggesting that you ignore your work; rather, be practical. Today’s businesses and teams are acutely aware of the dangers of burnout, and rightly so.

Give yourself some leeway as long as you’re not interfering with the rest of your team’s job or losing clients or direct revenue.

8. If at all possible, make work prioritisation a joint endeavour.

Keep in mind that your workload does not occur in a vacuum.

It doesn’t have to be a single effort to figure out how to prioritise chores. Today’s teams, for example, should empower employees to:

  • Over deadlines and allocated tasks, communicate any difficulties or questions.
  • Work together to set deadlines, the scope of work, and duties.
  • Get their “deep work” done and concentrate on their tasks without interruption.

This emphasises the importance of having your company communicate through a programme RisePath PlanCentral. Team members may manage their schedules and remain in touch with priority projects.

Members of the team can also ask questions and collaborate as needed.

Workers, on the other hand, should be able to unplug and concentrate on what they need to concentrate on. Users can do just that in “do not disturb” mode, or set their own hours, which is ideal for remote teams working in different time zones.

The sooner you understand how to prioritise things, the easier it will be to keep your schedule under control.

Your schedule may appear chaotic right now, but it doesn’t have to be.

Employees in modern companies need to be able to prioritise tasks once again.

When you know what your true priorities are, getting more done and focusing at work becomes lot easier. You can achieve exactly that right now using the architecture above and tools RisePath PlanCentral.

Asha patel

Asha has been a program manager, project manager and product manager for multiple Fortune 500 global companies. She has experience with implementing many successful technology, operations and product management projects.

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