The Key to Prioritizing Your Workload

This week on Episode 109 of the podcast we are talking about ways that we can make ourselves buckle down and get to work… even when we don’t want to!

So today, I want to take that idea one step further by discussing one of the major areas that can trip us up when it comes to finding motivation necessary to tackling our work tasks and ensuring that we are meeting deadlines… And that’s our workload in general!

Many of you have asked me how to go about prioritizing your work tasks when it feels like everything is a priority… So I want to focus on that today by talking about what I think is the KEY to prioritizing your workload so that you can set yourself up for long-term success in the workplace: the Priority List!

Ready to jump in?

 

Prioritizing Your Workload:

How to Create a Priority List

 

First, scrap Your “To-Do” List —

One thing that I want to stress here is the difference between a to-do list and what I call a priority list…

When creating a run-of-the-mill to-do list, we often bombard ourselves by listing every single thing that we need to get done, at some point. At first glance, these traditional to-do lists include a laundry list of items that touch on areas specific to our personal lives and our working lives, and that cause a ton of mental chaos as a result… because they just aren’t organized enough!

And so we sit and stare at the long list in front of us without any clear direction on how to tackle what we’ve written down… and in creeps procrastination and all of the negative emotions that come with it. (Sound familiar?)

So, when it comes to your work tasks, I want to encourage you to scrap the urge to write down an endless list of the items that you have on your plate and really hone in on the most important tasks that are specific to your job instead.

 

Do a Daily Run-Down of Your Work Tasks —

One of the most helpful things that you can put into practice when it comes to assessing and prioritizing your workload is to sit down each morning to create a daily task list (our Daily Inserts, Coil Free Daily Planners, or Daily Docket notepads at IWP can be the perfect tools for this!).

Ask yourself (and be honest!), What are all of the tasks that I need to get done today? Write those items down in a master task list and then proceed to the next step to get yourself organized.

 

Prioritize Tasks by Urgency and Importance —

Now that you’ve created your master task list, the second step is to take a look at each task on your list and to identify the tasks that are considered Urgent versus those that are considered Important.

While we discussed this idea in more depth way back in Episode 033 of the podcast, let’s do a quick recap here of the Three Priority Levels that you can think about when you’re identifying what tasks on your plate go where on your priority list.

 

The Three Priority Levels are: Immediate; Important; and Insignificant.

A great rule of thumb to keep in mind is to think of the word Urgent as being those tasks that require your immediate attention—tasks that must be completed by the end of the day, within the next several hours (and so on), and that will have serious negative consequences if they aren’t taken care of.

Important tasks are those that might not have a specific deadline, but still need to get done within a certain time-frame. They may require your attention (at some point), but they fall a little further down than those that you mark as Immediate + Urgent.

And those tasks that you mark as insignificant? Keep them at the absolute bottom of your list. These could be items like answering the majority of the emails you probably receive during the day, attending to phone calls, or helping out with a project that does not align with your work goals or immediate tasks.

 

Get to Work! —

Once you have a handle on your work tasks and have organized your priority list, you’re ready to hit the ground running!

But if you’re still feeling a bit uneasy about implementing a priority list… don’t worry! The more that you practice using a priority list instead of a regular old to-do list, the easier it will be to nip any procrastination you have experienced in the past in the bud so that you can streamline your productivity and effectiveness in the workplace instead.

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And if you have any tips on prioritizing your work tasks that we didn’t cover here, then I would love to hear them! Be sure to share your ideas in the comments below… And head over to Episode 109 of Productivity Paradox to tune in as we discuss ways that you can get to work and buckle down on your tasks when you find yourself strapped for motivation!

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Tonya Dalton
Tonya Dalton