Why You Need To Prioritise Effectively
I have mentioned prioritising a lot in my posts, but why is this so important to prioritise effectively?
What is prioritising?
You probably prioritise all the time without really realising it, when you decide to eat your breakfast before having a shower or check your emails before starting a report. In those instances, you have prioritised your breakfast and emails before a shower or your report.
Prioritising is the act of deciding the order that you will complete a series of tasks. However, the order that we naturally do something is not always the best or most effective. For instance, how many of us have put off an important task just to find that we then have to rush it because the deadline is looming (a good example of this for all of you in the UK is your self-assessment tax return! When did you complete your 2017-2018 return?)
It is important to learn how to prioritise effectively so that you don’t end up completing tasks (like your tax return) at the last moment.
The benefits of effective prioritising
The main two benefits of being able to prioritise effectively are the reduction of stress and increased productivity.
Prioritising when done effectively can also help with –
• Saving time
• Improved memory
• Increased sleep
• Higher quality work
• Better memory recall
• More leisure time
• Increased motivation
If you learn to prioritise effectively then you will find that you become better at your work and your overall health and wellbeing will improve. You will no longer feel like you are constantly chasing your tail and you will find that the time you do spend relaxing or on leisure activities will be more enjoyable.
How do you prioritise effectively?
The easiest way to prioritise is to make a list of everything you need to do/ have going on, you can do this on a regular basis or as a one-off, it really depends on your individual circumstances.
I personally tend to regularly prioritise, I also prioritise for the day, week, and month. You need to find a system which allows you to list everything and then separate them in order of priority, how exactly you prioritise these is up to you.
There is a number of different systems you can use such as –
• A diary/ calendar (this can be paper-based or computer/ technological based)
• A document (such as an Excel or Word document)
• A Project Management System (such as Asana or Trello)
• A piece of paper or post-it-notes
You can prioritise them in order of importance, due date, length of time they will take to complete, etc. You could also prioritise them in a combination of different ways.
As a said, how you do this will depend very much on your circumstances. As I have a lot of different things going on in my life, I use a variety of different methods to keep track of everything, however when my life was much ‘simpler’ I just used my phone.
Guide to prioritising your life
Create a to-do list – this is basically where you list out absolutely everything that you have going on, you will need to include things like:
• Upcoming important dates (birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, appointments, etc)
• Activities (gym, classes, clubs, hobbies, etc)
• Financial commitments (bills, purchases, tax returns, invoices, etc)
• Other tasks (this could be things like reports due at work or research you need to complete)
These things can be recurring things or short-term things, or just one off. Do not worry too much if you forget something but try to get down as much as possible. You will then need to organise these things in some manner, as I mentioned above these can be in the order of importance, due date, the length it will take, a combination, or however is easier for you.
If you have dependents that you are fully/ partially responsible for (like children or elderly relatives) then you may want to incorporate their things or create a separate list for them. You could even create separate lists for work and personal, really how you organise this is completely up to you.
Set realistic deadlines – if you are in charge of the deadline then make sure that you set achievable deadlines/ goals – if you are not in charge of the deadlines (work example it was set by work or a client) then try your hardest to set aside enough time.
When organising deadlines and setting aside enough time for competition – make sure you incorporate time for breaks, distractions, unexpected incidents. It is also important to stay on task as much as possible. Try not to work on too many things at once, don’t keep jumping from task to task or juggle two (or more) things at once.
Monitor your list – you will need to keep your list up to date, if something is completed then mark it as complete (depending on the system you use), if something needs to be added or re-added them make sure you do this. The more regularly you update your list the less time it will take to maintain. How often this should be will really depend on you and the level of activity going on.
Don’t forget delegation – if you feel that you just have too much to do and not enough time to do it then STOP and think, do you personally really have to do all of this? Is there anything at all you can offload or just drop altogether. The outcome of this task should leave you feeling relieved not overwhelmed. If, after writing everything down, you feel overwhelmed then that may be a sign that you are taking too much on.
Keep on what needs to be done by you and/ or you enjoy doing and offload the rest where possible. Once you have done this then re-evaluate your list, is that better?