How to achieve more in less time: tips for prioritization
Published in Leadership and Soft Skills.
We often rush doing tasks that we just received. It can lead to us spending time on tasks that will be of no use to anyone. Imagine finishing a report just to find out that the requestor has already received the same information from another source. Such a task can be discovered to violate your team’s policies or current priorities and goals. Patience is a great virtue when working in a modern business environment.
You can’t simply take more and more tasks forever. You have to make the most of your working time, so get rid of work you don’t intend to do. Saying “No” early helps both you and the Requestors. Prioritization should be done in a smart way to avoid scrutiny for skipping great projects. Remember, busyness doesn’t equal progress.
So, what can you do to prioritize tasks effectively?
- Evaluate long-term goals. Write down the goals and current priorities of the organization, your team, and yourself. Make it a single list you’ll use to evaluate the importance of new tasks. Big picture is vital in prioritizing effectively.
- Gather a full scope of tasks and their deadlines. If a task doesn’t have a formal deadline – assign one yourself. Filter out the tasks not aligned with objectives from the list you gathered. Filling your day with tasks that have no impact on goals is wasted time.
- Consider effort. Sort tasks based on the estimated time and effort required to finish them. Collect data from similar tasks to improve your estimates. Mark groups of tasks that can be done simultaneously and don’t depend on your colleagues.
- Avoid competing priorities. Most Important Tasks methodology (MIT) involves creating a separate list of just three tasks that must be done that day. Stay focused and do not react to concurrent tasks or ad-hoc requests. Multitasking has been linked to a decline in performance.
You have finite time for work. It’s important to be realistic in setting goals and prioritizing tasks. Don’t create false expectations of those around you. Practice rejecting work early and you’ll become better and better at it.