Starting work in the morning usually results in task overload! All these outstanding tasks demanding your attention. Where do you start? You start by learning how to prioritize tasks.
High priority tasks are more important than other tasks. If you know the priority of your tasks, then you can work on the most important ones first. But how do you know which of your tasks has the highest priority?
Step 1: Ask Your Manager
It is your manager’s job to ensure you know the priority of your tasks. Chat with your manager about your tasks to help determine the priority, Ask them if they will assign a priority level and due date whenever they give you a task so you can ensure the most important tasks get done.
Step 2: Determine Priority by Inference
What do you do if your manager is unresponsive or says “everything is a priority.” In this case, you will have to infer what is a priority by watching carefully to see what your manager sees as priority.
- What does your manager ask about most?
- What tasks most upset your manager when they are late?
This will help show you what the real priorities are when your manager won’t help.
Step 3: Focus on the Money
Tasks that make money or save your firm money tend to take priority over general administrative type tasks. So when assessing your tasks for priority levels, give thought to the financial impact of the task on the organization.
Step 4: Focus on Existing Customers
Tasks that keep your existing customers happy tend to be high priority as no company wants their good customers to be irate. And losing customers also costs the company money. So, when deciding how to prioritize tasks, take into account how the task affects your customers.
Step 5: Is the Task Blocking Others?
The task you do may have other tasks and people dependent on it. For example, a marketing campaign for an upcoming workshop is stalled until the venue is chosen. If it is your job to find and book the venue for the workshop, you are holding up the marketing people, graphic design people, sales staff and others who need to know where the workshop will be held before they can proceed. A task that many other tasks and people are dependent on is higher priority.
Step 6: Marketing Tasks
In Step 4, we mentioned tasks that keep customers happy are important. So are tasks that bring you new customers! If your marketing tasks get put off, your source of new customers dries up. No new customers also means no new money. So marketing tasks are also a higher priority,
Step 7: Ask Yourself
Ask yourself “If I could only do ONE task today, would this be it?” This question should help you figure out how to prioritize tasks.
How to Prioritize Tasks Checklist
Use this checklist to analyze each task.
- Manager says it is important
- Management focuses on this area
- Relates to Money
- Relates to Customer satisfaction
- Relates to Marketing
- Keeps others from proceeding
- If I could only do one task today, this would be it
Tick all boxes that apply. The more boxes ticked, the higher the priority.
Priority Tasks Take Precedence
The goal is to identify the priority of each task and put the high priority ones first. This way, if you don’t get all your tasks done, you still will complete the most important tasks.
Learning how to prioritize tasks will have a huge impact in your productivity. Having trouble determining what are your highest priority tasks. Contact me and I will be happy to help.
– Garland Coulson “Captain Time”