Prioritizing is about making choices of what
to do and what not to do. To prioritize
effectively you need to be able to recognize
what is important, as well as to see the
difference between urgent and important.
The important, or high priority, tasks are the
tasks that help us achieve our long-term
goals or can have other meaningful and
significant long-term consequences.
Prioritizing skills are your ability to see what
tasks are more important at each moment
and give those tasks more of your attention,
energy, and time. You focus on what is
important at the expense of lower value
We all have many things to do, and we never
have time and energy to do them all.
We don't have time and resources to do
them equally well either.
Many things will be left undone, no matter
how hard you try.
Prioritizing is a way to solve that frustrating
"Prioritizing is the answer to time management
problems - not computers, efficiency experts,
or matrix scheduling. You do not need to do
work faster or to eliminate gaps in productivity
to make better use of your time. You need to
spend more time on the right things...“
C. Ray Johnson, in one of the final chapters of his
book CEO Logic : How to Think and Act Like a Chief
At first glance, many of the tasks we face during
a day seem equally urgent and important. Yet, if
you take a closer look, you will see that many of
the urgent activities we are involved are not
really important in the long run.
At the same time, things that are most important
for us, like improving ourselves and our skills,
getting a better education, spending time with
family, often are not urgent.
One key reason why prioritizing works, and
works well, is the 80/20 Rule. The 80/20 Rule
states that 80 percent of our typical activities
contribute less than 20 percent to the value
of our work.
So, if you do only the most important 20
percent of your tasks you still get most of the
value. Then, if you focus most of your efforts
on those top value activities, you achieve
much more than before, or you will have
more time to spend with your family.
2 APPROACH IN PRIORITIZING
Approach number one involves tackling the biggest
tasks first and getting them out of the way. The idea
is that by tackling them first you deal with the
pressure and anxiety that builds up and prevents you
from getting anything done—whether we’re talking
about big or small tasks. Leo Babauta is a proponent
of this method.
Approach number two involves tackling the tasks you
can get done quickly and easily, with minimal effort.
Proponents of this method believe that by tackling the
small fries first, you’ll have less noise distracting you
from the periphery of your consciousness.
With good prioritizing skills, you finish as
soon as possible all the important urgent
tasks, the ones that would get you into a
crisis or trouble otherwise. Then, you focus
your attention and try to give more and more
time to those most important, but not urgent
tasks, the ones that are most rewarding in
the long run.
Prioritizing principles can be applied to both
planned and unplanned activities.
For planned activities, like the ones included in
your to do list, you can mark each of your tasks
with "A", "B", or "C", depending on its
importance. The "B" tasks should be done only
after you are finished with all the most important
"A" tasks, the ones that just must be done. If
you have time after you are finished with the "B"
tasks, you can move on to the "C" ones.
When you set priorities in to do lists, also keep
asking yourself if any of your tasks can be
eliminated or delegated.
When you prioritize unplanned activities, you
often need to make quick decisions, and you
don't have time to analyze the situation in full. It
is best just to keep in mind your goals and
rely on your instincts. Your effectiveness in
such situations depends very much on the
clarity of your goals.
All projects—especially large, complex
projects—need clear priorities. Easier said than
done. You can count on technical projects, no
matter how well-planned, to involve change
orders, re-prioritization and the regular
appearance of surprises. It’s just the natural
order of things.
But still. Knowing how to prioritize work affects
the success of your project, the engagement of
your team, and your role as a leader.
One of the biggest challenges for project managers and
leaders is accurately prioritizing the work that matters on
a daily basis. Even if you have the best project
management software on the planet, you’re the one who
enters information into the tool. And, you don’t want to fall
into the role of crying “top priority” for every other project
that comes down the pike. Just as you have to be diligent
and have the right kind of project insight to ensure that
nobody’s working on yesterday’s priorities. It takes a lot of
practice to get this right.
To help you manage your team’s workload and hit
deadlines, here are 6 steps to prioritizing projects that
have a lot of moving parts.
1. COLLECT A LIST OF ALL YOUR TASKS.
Pull together everything you could possibly
consider getting done in a day. Don’t worry
about the order, or the number of items up
WHAT TO WRITE?
Write down everything you need to do. Start
breaking it down and writing down what exactly
you need to do in whatever order the things
occur to you.
Within the time frame that's got you stressing,
select all the tasks--however big or small--that
will need to be accomplished and list them out.
List projects that need to be accomplished,
decisions that need to be made, and errands
that need to be run.
2. IDENTIFY URGENT VS. IMPORTANT.
The next step is to see if you have any tasks that
need immediate attention. We’re talking about
work that, if not completed by the end of the day or
in the next several hours, will have serious
negative consequences (missed client deadline;
missed publication or release deadlines, etc.).
Check to see if there are any high-pri dependencies
that rely on you finishing up a piece of work now.
3. ASSESS VALUE
Next, look at your important work and identify what
carries the highest value to your business and
organization. As a general practice, you want to
recognize exactly which types of tasks have top priority
over the others.
For example, focus on: client projects before internal
work; setting up the new CEO’s computer before re-
configuring the database; answering support tickets
before writing training materials, and so on. Another way
to assess value is to look at how many people are
impacted by your work.
In general, the more people involved or impacted, the
higher the stakes.
4. ORDER TASKS BY ESTIMATED EFFORT
If you have tasks that seem to tie for priority
standing, check their estimates, and start on
whichever one you think will take the most
effort to complete.
Productivity experts suggest the tactic of
starting the lengthier task first. But, if you feel
like you can’t focus on your meatier projects
before you finish up the shorter task, then go
with your gut and do that. It can be motivating to
check a small task off the list before diving into
5. BE FLEXIBLE AND ADAPTABLE
Uncertainty and change is a given. Know that
your priorities will change, and often when
you least expect them to. But—and here’s
the trick—you also want to stay focused
on the tasks you’re committed to completing.
To be able to effectively prioritize, you must
be able to deal with changing priorities.
Take them as they come and decide if they
are urgent or not.
6. KNOW WHEN TO CUT.
You probably can’t get to everything on your
list. After you prioritize your tasks and look at
your estimates, cut the remaining tasks from
your list, and focus on the priorities that you
know you must and can complete for the day.
Then take a deep breathe, dive in and be
ready for anything.
Cross tasks off the list as you complete them.
Congratulations! As you move through the
list, take a glad moment to cross each thing
off, deleting it from the file, or cutting it off the
paper and ceremonially setting the scrap on
fire. Take a minute to reward yourself for
each little accomplishment. You're doing it!
Prioritizing is a way to solve that frustrating
Taking charge of your space and your time
allows you to focus on what is important,
meet deadlines and minimize job and
“Prioritizing effectively.” Time Management.Com.,http://www.time-
3.“How to prioritize a to do list.” http://www.ehow.com/how_8791_prioritize-
4.“Choosing a Time Management Tool.”
I’m sure you know the feeling of getting up for work in the morning with the feeling of having so much to do that you don’t know where to start. Oftentimes, everything that you have to do seems like a priority, which makes it tough to figure out where to begin.
As a principle, it means doing 'first things first;' as a process, it means evaluating a group of items/task and ranking them in their order of importance or urgency
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