In today’s fast-paced world, time is a valuable commodity, and we all want to make the most of it. It’s so easy to let the little things get in the way. Truth be told, I’ve been known to go down the YouTube rabbit hole occasionally, watching productivity videos when I should focus on my own productivity.
The irony isn’t lost on me!
But seriously, the art of prioritization is a powerful tool that can help us order our thoughts more coherently, achieve more in less time, improve our organization, and increase our overall efficiency. Focusing on the most critical tasks ensures we maximize our time and energy.
In this blog, I’ll share my 6 top tips on how I use prioritization to help you achieve more in your day and cut through all of the things that can distract you or lead you down a path of procrastination.
So, no more procrastinating, let’s get on with it!
1. Make A List
Ok, so this is pretty straightforward, right? However, I’m not talking about getting your trusty pen and scribbling some ideas on the back of a napkin. You need to make it visible in your workspace so you can’t ignore it. Whether you use a program that sends you reminders or a giant whiteboard, it’s vital that you see it and refer to it regularly.
I always start by writing down all my tasks and then ordering them depending on their importance. So much of our lives is clutter—including our thoughts!
With each item, ask yourself, “is this important?” Prioritizing each task on the list is something successful leaders do to make significant decisions on allocating resources so they’re productive as possible. Therefore, each item’s importance must relate to your business goals and what you’ll have achieved by completing it. Whether the return on your efforts is business or personal doesn’t matter. What matters is that you feel successful in getting the job done.
Once you have your list defined and ordered, tick them off individually. Try not to beat yourself up if you don’t succeed with every task in the day. Instead, celebrate every milestone as one less thing to worry about!
2. Get An Early Start
This is perhaps the most underrated tip on how to prioritize tasks.
In my mind, there is no substitute for getting out of bed early and plowing forward. I’m at my best in the first few hours of each day, assuming I’m well-rested, of course! When you would rather be with family or friends, struggling to complete tasks in the evening makes work feel like a chore.
But hey, don’t take it from me! I’m sure you have heard of multi-billionaire investor Warren Buffet. He’s an avid early riser, famously saying, “I wake up early daily. It’s an automatic habit now. It allows me to get a head start on the day.”
That isn’t bad advice from one of the most productive humans on the planet!
By waking up early, you can carve out time to work on the most important tasks before other distractions and responsibilities pile up. This can help you progress on your top priorities and set a productive tone for the rest of the day. So, while the birds are chirping, begin your day with a clear head and a positive mindset.
3. Break Down Big Tasks
So you have made your list and got up at the crack of dawn with your coffee in hand. Oh, dear. Staring back at you at number one on the list is a humungous, overwhelming behemoth of a task that sends shivers down your spine…yikes!
Just hold on a second. It’s pretty easy to start going down the procrastination road if you have no end in sight, so try breaking down big tasks into bite-sized pieces. Whenever I face a project I know will take considerable energy, I create mini-tasks to relieve the pain. That way, I feel as if I’m still achieving something while working toward my ultimate goal.
Have you ever heard of the Pomodoro Technique? It’s a fantastic method that asks people to break work sessions into 25-minute intervals, known as ‘Pomodoros.’ During each Pomodoro, you focus on a task or set of functions and work to complete as much as possible before the time elapses. When you have completed the 25 minutes, you treat yourself to a short break.
The Pomodoro Technique is terrific for eliminating distractions and keeping you on task. It creates a sense of urgency, combats feelings of anxiety related to big jobs, and gives you a laser focus. Try it out!
4. Identify Tasks That You Can Delegate To Others
“No man (or woman) is an island.” I’m pretty sure that is the quote, right? I may have to go and look that up…
But in all seriousness, you don’t have to do it alone! If you try to take all the workload on yourself, it’s only a matter of time before procrastination trumps prioritization. Or even worse, burnout sets in, and you get nothing done.
Entrusting other members with your team to help you with your lists or getting a freelancer on board if you’re a solopreneur can make all the difference to your state of mind, and they can keep you moving towards your productivity goal.
I’m not saying give every task away. I’m not even advocating for giving away the most challenging tasks you know best. However, identifying time-consuming tasks and passing them over to a capable individual is a smart move that just might clear that tension headache that has been building since you created your list!
5. Set Deadlines For Yourself
I’m sure you remember that college paper that had you squirming as the deadline approached. Not a great feeling, I’ll admit, but pretty effective for motivating you, right?
With college in the rearview mirror, perhaps it’s time to revisit that feeling—albeit with your own self-appointed deadline. Prioritization means being accountable for the work you need to do, so why not set a deadline for yourself so that you stay on track and complete your tasks promptly?
Ensure your deadlines are achievable, or you’ll likely feel terrible if the work isn’t done. Recognize what you’re capable of and stick to a logical timeframe. Trust me, if you know when it needs to be done, it’s much easier to focus on completing it with a deadline approaching.
6. Reward Yourself & Celebrate
Life shouldn’t be an endless checklist of tasks. You need variety and exposure to things you enjoy—otherwise, what’s the point?
That is why I’m a big believer in rewarding yourself whenever you achieve a significant milestone. Checking a big job off your list is a reason to celebrate! In order to stay sane, you have to take a little time away from your desk to breathe, relax and collect your thoughts.
It’s probable that your list will soon be populated with several more tasks in the coming days, so enjoy this moment and keep up the positive prioritization! You’re doing great!
Summing It Up
I hope these tips will serve you well as you strive towards your productivity goal. Everyone faces a lack of motivation sometimes, and prioritizing tasks can sometimes feel like a neverending maze.
If you’re interested in talking with me about your struggles or want to develop a more substantial leadership presence, why not book a call with me? I give you my undivided attention in my consultation calls, so we can work out strategies that map out your individual path to success.
I look forward to meeting you!