You have a lengthy list and you want to be as productive as you can be. You have several projects to work on and you want to include self-care in your day. Everything seems equally important to do. What do you do to prioritize your list?
Align your goals with your tasks
Knowing your goal is the first step to prioritizing. Take a few minutes to process what your goals are. Write these where you can see these every day to keep these in mind. You will have both personal and professional goals so seeing and acknowledging all of these helps you prioritize.
If you have more than 5 goals, it may be time to refine your goals or consolidate your goals into categories. The categories would also include single or multiple tasks or projects in that area. Improving your health might be a goal, and the action is to take a daily walk of 10k steps or run a half marathon.
You can simplify your tasks with one or two per goal. Working in micro-steps to a goal is one of the most successful methods. An example of this might be to market your business with 3 posts per week on social media, rather than posting on multiple sites many times a week.
Capture and categorize your tasks
You want to know all the actions before you start prioritizing. Capturing all the tasks is when you write down all the actions you are planning or thinking of doing. It could be post it notes around your computer screen, a yellow pad with a long list, or a list in Click Up or Notion. Capturing tasks may be the point where you are overwhelmed and feel that you need to prioritize. It is an important step because you want to have all the possibilities.
After you create your lists, you can again categorize your tasks by topic. See the tasks by category helps you sequence, delegate and possibly delete actions. You can add categories like parking lot, pause, or waiting for pending tasks.
It is distracting when there are more tasks assigned to you with colleagues and your boss. Use a collaborative tool to capture all your team tasks and know what is assigned to you. Work productively with dates for deliverables.
Use dates to prioritize
A date is the most productive prioritizer. Agree on when your task is due, then add time to work on that task in a time block. Set aside time after a meeting to capture the dates and add work time in your planner. Once you know the amount of time required, you can set a date on your own as a way to prioritize.
During your Weekly Planning Time, review what is due this week. Extend the view during that time to look out a week or two as a heads up to prioritize and assess. Use time blocking to decide ahead of time and schedule work sessions that remove prioritizing at the last minute.
Establish routines for necessary tasks
Long term priorities often get little attention as due dates seem far off. Administrative and financial priorities need a routine schedule to give ample priority to the foundations of your life and work. A set routine for those tasks that are required but not date driven make it easy to accomplish these. You can set Friday afternoon for tasks like admin time, financial reviews or completing expense reports when less energy is available. Personal bill pay and financial reviews can be done on the 2nd and 4th Thursday evening or once a month on a Sunday.
Process and prioritize with your team
It may be unclear the next steps for a project. Your priorities should align with your team priorities. Host a clarifying discussion to be sure you are all aligned, what the next steps are and when the project will conclude. In processing this information, you can be best prepared to prioritize on your own as well.
Choose a tracking tool that automates prioritizing
There are many tools to use that can help you prioritize. A Gantt chart can help you sequence priorities. Asana, Trello and Basecamp keep your tasks consolidated and your project on tracK. There are no perfect tools so choose what is easy for you to use and a tool you can use consistently.
No matter how you choose to prioritize, there may be a day that you don’t feel organized enough to prioritize. Take a step back, look at the big picture, and choose a strategy to help you know what to do then. Once you have prioritized, write your tasks where you can see them all day and all week.