How to prioritize tasks: 12 steps guide to complete your work in less time and be more productive.

By: Naveen B

Organizing your working hours can be a big challenge. Everyone’s working schedule is different.

But if you’re like me, you can’t seem to stop thinking of ways to be more productive. And all that productivity comes at a cost.

It’s tempting to cram as many tasks as possible into each day, but this can lead to burnout and procrastination. Instead, it’s important to prioritize.

So, how to prioritize tasks? There are a lot of tools and tips for boosting productivity, but what works for some people doesn’t for others.

It often comes down to personal preference. Some people work better in the morning, others at night, some people prefer to work on their computers, others prefer a desk and a pen and paper.

Most people struggle to prioritize, but it’s not easy. There’s a huge difference between “the important task first” and “the most important tasks first.”

Some people prefer to do the hardest tasks first, while others like to spread out the hard stuff.

Some people like to do the least important tasks first, while others like to get them out of the way so they don’t have to think about them all day.

There’s no right way to prioritize, but there are right and wrong ways to approach it.

And, one thing that I’ve found to work incredibly well for me is to prioritize my tasks.

Here’s how I prioritize my work and hope this will help you to get things done in less time.

A simple rule of thumb involves – To achieve big goals, start with small habits

Related post: How to find motivation: Complete guide to stay motivated everyday.

How to prioritize tasks?

Generally, how do you prioritize your work? 

Prioritizing tasks always involves in conscious decisions. Very few things which we act upon are based on what interests us. Mostly, rest of our actions are depend on our impulsive choices.

So, it is important to focus on the tasks that help you to see the bigger picture for greater rewards.

Prioritizing tasks is important for the productivity, efficiency, and overall success of each business.

If you have a to-do list with ten tasks, how are you going to accomplish them all?

The key to prioritizing tasks is to first identify the most important tasks.

Then, once you have identified the most important tasks, identify which tasks are the most important and least important.

Let’s see the step-by-step guide on how to prioritize tasks:

Step 1. Establish your priorities.

Before you decide how to spend your time at work, it’s important to write down what you plan to accomplish that day. Make a list of everything you need to get done.

Your to-do list doesn’t have to be super-detailed. Just jot down the most important tasks first, and then fill in any gaps from there.

These should be tasks that have a direct impact on your business, or that you’d rather not do than put off. To be productive, it’s important to prioritize tasks.

I use a simple text file. I write down every project that I’m working on, and the key dates for each.

But how exactly do we determine what needs to get done and what doesn’t? And how do we make sure that the most important tasks actually get done?

As a starting point, let’s list out our daily tasks. We have 10 emails to answer, a blog post to write, 10 minutes of free time, four sales calls to make, and 15 minutes to get to the gym.

People Also Read: How to stop procrastinating: A step-by-step guide to improve your productivity.

Step 2. Rank your tasks by importance.

I rank them in order of priority. Sometimes that’s easy, and other times it can prove to be more challenging.

       i. First, identify your “front load” tasks. These are the most important tasks on your list, and they should be completed in the order in which you list them.

     ii. Second, identify your “back load” tasks. These are tasks that aren’t as important, and shouldn’t be completed until after your “front load” tasks are complete.

So, from the above-listed tasks, which of them should we prioritize?

With limited resources, we need to prioritize carefully.

The 80/20 rule is a good guideline: 20% of our efforts typically produce 80% of our results.

With limited time, we need to prioritize ruthlessly.

So, which tasks should we do first?

Here are four questions that can help.

1. Which task will produce the most impact?

2. Which task will bring in the most money?

3. Which task will have the most positive impact on our career?

4. Which task can we complete in 10 minutes or less?

When prioritizing tasks, it’s important to not only focus on “impact” but also “time” and “money.”

Let’s say you’re in charge of sales for your product.

It’s Monday morning and your inbox is full of emails. Three of the emails are from customers asking for discounts. The other two are from colleagues or someone who want to know if you need any help.

Step 3. Schedule or Delegate tasks.

Now that you’ve prioritized your tasks, it’s time to schedule them.

To maximize your productivity, schedule all of your tasks ahead of time, so you know exactly what’s coming up and when.

      i. Break down your “front load” tasks into smaller tasks. Identify one task from each of your “front load” tasks, and break those smaller tasks down even further into the smallest tasks you can realistically do.

     ii. Break down your “back load” tasks into smaller tasks. Identify one task from each of your “back load” tasks, and break those smaller tasks down even further into the smallest tasks you can realistically do.

Step 4. Create a deadline.

Once you’ve listed your priorities and scheduled tasks, it’s important to set timelines for completing them, so you know what’s due when.

I would recommend creating two lists for : 

    “Today,” which lists tasks due today, and 

    “Tomorrow,” which lists tasks due tomorrow.

Step 5. Eliminate Distractions.

The only goal of prioritizing tasks is to be more productive. And the productivity is largely based on focused you are. So, it’s important to eliminate distractions to get more things done in less time.

Now that you know what to do, how do you actually start?

Step 6. Start the most important task first.

Once you’ve scheduled all of your tasks and set your deadlines, it’s time to focus on the most important one. Whatever you need to finish first, do it first. By focusing on the most important task first, you waste less time getting everything done.

Which task should you do first?

1. Which task will produce the most impact?

 For example, Your customers are the lifeblood of your business. So, your first priority is to make sales calls, or if your emails are more important, you can respond to them first.

Step 7. Finish the most important task first.

It’s not just starting but to finishing is most important in order to feel productive and move on to the next task. Finish the most important task early, so you’re not left scrambling to finish it.

Once you have the most important task finished, you can move on to the rest of your to-do list. 

Step 8. Identify the bottlenecks (blocks).

It’s your responsibility to identify where you’re spending the most time. Do you find yourself stuck at the same task ? Or do you feel that have a workload and nothing gets done?

If the answer to those questions is yes, then the first step to managing effectively is to identify those bottlenecks. 

If you can’t get to your tasks because you’re answering the same questions over and over, then outsource that task to others or hire a freelancer if you’re spending way too much time dealing with burnout.

Consider assigning some of your heavy load projects to help ease some of your workloads.

Step 9. Leverage technology.

Assigning tasks isn’t just about delegating. It’s also about using technology to help yourself and get things done more effectively.

For example, you can use task management systems like Trello and Asana to collaborate on a shared to-do list, or you can use instant messaging, email, conference calls and video conferencing to collaborate with your team, clients or vendors.

Step 10. Repeat all the steps for less important tasks.

After finishing your first important task, repeat the same process for the remaining tasks for the day. 

In the evening, I go through my daily list and rank each project again. I work on the most important task first and follow that with the next most important, and so on.

Of course, your priorities change over time, and with every project you work on.

Therefore, your process will probably change. But I find that it’s effective, and it’s helped me time and time again.

Step 11. Celebrate.

Once, if you successfully finished all your tasks. Treat yourself or the team if you run a business in order to get excited about doing the work we love.

A small celebration is a type of incentive or reward to our brains. In order to not to feel burnout, it’s just a way of satisfying our soul to get prepared for the next day.

Step 12. Stay motivated.

Staying motivated at work can be hard, But regular breaks and small rewards and seeing your growth can make you stay motivated.

And work hard until you reach your major goals. So, it’s important to focus on your health too and stay motivated.

Related Article: How to get motivated: Guide to motivate yourself everyday

Tools for prioritizing tasks

We all face the same dilemma. We have several options on how we want to spend our time. Staying focused, however, is easier said than done.

Tasks often jostle for our attention, and prioritizing them can be one of life’s biggest challenges.

You can streamline your workflow by prioritizing your tasks, but coming up with a plan of attack can feel overwhelming.

Fortunately, there are a few tools that can help you. And you don’t need to break the bank to do so.

Here are 5 free and low-cost tools that can help prioritize your tasks:

1. Remember the Milk. Remember the Milk is a free-to-use to-do list application that syncs across desktop, smartphone and tablet devices. Using the utility’s time-tracking capabilities, this lets you measure the time you’re spending on different tasks.

2. Todoist. Todoist is another free to-do list application that can sync between desktop, smartphone and tablet devices. Todoist’s time-tracking feature is optional, but Todoist’s Chrome extension can help you get an accurate picture of how your time is spent on different tasks.

3. Microsoft Outlook. Microsoft Outlook is a paid tool, but you can use it for free for 60 days if you sign up for business email account. Outlook’s calendar can be synced to your smartphone, so you can view upcoming appointments and deadlines from wherever you are.

4. Google Calendar. Google Calendar is a free option. It only works on the web, so you’ll need a browser to use it. Google Calendar can be synced to your smartphone so you can view upcoming appointments and deadlines from wherever you are.

5. Trello. Trello is another free option. It’s a web-based app

Image credits

Design vector created by pikisuperstar – freepik

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Experienced Psychology and philosophy Writer, self-help and relationship Coach and thought influencer. He has 7 years of experience in Personal development industry. His expertise as a self-help and relationship Coach has been highlighted through his articles in medium and substack to name a few. To be updated with his latest work, connect with him by following his social media accounts.

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