Most employees can relate to the feeling: you arrive at work, take one glance at your to-do list for the day, and immediately feel overwhelmed. You don't know where to begin, because every task on your ever-growing list is important and worthy of your attention. However, the hallmark of all successful employees is the ability to prioritize-- that is, discerning which tasks are the most important to the success of their projects, their companies, and their careers.
Below we will discuss some tips for prioritizing in the workplace:
- Determine if it makes you money. One of the first things you should consider when attempting to prioritize your to-do list is which of your tasks listed makes you money. All managers want employees who work closest to the dollar. Thus, finishing up that new business proposal should take priority over cleaning out your overflowing inbox.
- Be flexible. So, you've prioritized your to-do list and have gotten to work. Then, a client calls with a crisis. Suddenly, every item on your to-do list gets pushed down a notch and there's a new number one priority. It happens. Panicking or resisting the change in your priorities will do nothing but cause unnecessary stress. Be adaptable and know that changing priorities is okay.
- Consider deadlines. When prioritizing your tasks, an essential consideration is whether or not a task has a firm deadline. If it's something that must be completed by the end of the day, move it up on your list. If you can delay the task for a day or two, move it down.
- Be realistic. Even perfectionists need to realize their own limitations. You can't make every task your number one priority. If you set unattainable goals for yourself, you'll inevitably end up feeling burned out and disappointed.
- Take your mental load into consideration. Maybe it's not your most time-consuming task that belongs at the top of your priority list. Sometimes, it's the task that we consider the most stressful that needs prioritizing. For example, if you're spending all of your time worrying about a client meeting you need to schedule, bump it up on the list. Get it done, and get it off your mind.
- Give yourself time limits. Perfectionists, listen up. Spending too much time on one item on your list will prevent you from accomplishing other important tasks. Employees who know how to successfully prioritize give themselves a time limit for completing each task.
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