How to Prioritize When Your To-Do List Never Ends


Insights for ProfessionalsThe latest thought leadership for Management pros

Monday, March 19, 2018

Running your own business means that you're tasked with a long list of important things that need doing. But, when everything is important, how do you prioritize?

Article 3 Minutes
How to Prioritize When Your To-Do List Never Ends

Being in charge of your own business is incredibly rewarding, but it also means that a lot of important tasks are left for you to complete. Not being able to be selective about where to focus your time can leave you with lots of half-finished jobs. This can result in you feeling frustrated with your workload and incredibly stressed.

But when you have a long to-do list of important tasks that all need doing, how do you prioritize?

Are people waiting for you?

If you not finishing a job will delay other people, then it's a much higher priority than something that doesn't affect others. Not only will missing deadlines frustrate your employees who are waiting for you, but it will also waste their time by delaying the point where they can start on the project.

Estimating the amount of people who could potentially be affected by you failing to complete a certain task is a good way of seeing how important your part is, but can also help you see how much money could be lost in productivity. It's important that you factor this in when deciding what projects are most deserving of your time.

Create 'blocks' in your day

Dividing your day up into blocks can help you to be more productive with your time. Find what works best for you, but bear in mind that it's a good idea to have certain times of the day when you look and respond to emails, meeting slots where people can book time with you, and segments where you're not to be disturbed unless it's urgent.

This will reduce distractions and allow you to focus on each task that needs doing. It also makes it clear to other people about when you're contactable and when you're not, making it easier for them to reach out to you when they need to.

Can you delegate?

Do you need to do the task yourself, or can someone else take it off you? Being in charge of a business can turn you into a little bit of a control freak, but you don't have to do everything yourself. Identify what tasks you can give to other people, even if they need your approval once most of the work has been done.

Setting aside time to brief another colleague on a task will save you time in the long run and ensure the job is done to the high standard you want it.

What is the potential risk?

Is a client likely to cancel if you don't complete this task? What's the worst thing that will happen? Asking yourself these questions may seem pessimistic, but it can be an effective way of deciding what tasks to start on first. Of course, everything is important to do or it wouldn't be on your list, but some things will be urgent and others won't be.

Making the most of your time

Prioritizing is all about making the most of your time so that you can get the most important tasks finished. These simple steps will help you achieve this and ensure you are giving your attention to the most-pressing tasks, rather than trying to tackle everything at once.

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