How to Prioritize When Everything is #1

There are days (weeks, months) when you’re slammed at work. Then there are periods where you finally have breathing room to catch up. But in those moments it’s easy to start to worry, “I have time to get back on track! I have to get caught up on everything immediately. Now where do I start?”

No matter which side you’re experiencing, being able to quickly prioritize your tasks will help you become more efficient in your day, and leave the hustle at the office.

How do you prioritize your agenda when everything seems urgent?

“I mark memos Urgent A, Urgent B, Urgent C, Urgent D. Urgent A is the most important. Urgent D you don’t even really have to worry about.”

Michael Scott, The Office
  1. Get all your tasks into one place. Start by listing everything in “overall” terms. For example, you would write “Lunchtime Learning” in one slot, rather than “Order lunch, print agendas, create promotions, etc.”
  2. Write out the dates and details. Next, get into the nitty-gritty of what tasks need to be completed for each larger item (the lunch, promotions, etc.) Write the date beside each task item, then re-order them on your paper by due date.
  3. Determine between ‘urgent’ and ‘important.’ While you might want to spend an extra 10 minutes tweaking that social media post to be perfect, sometimes it’s best to get your ideas out/onto paper, then move onto the next task. If the post isn’t due immediately, unload your creativity, then move onto the next agenda item and come back when you have time to be more detail oriented.
  4. Ask your brain to think about one task at a time. If you have 20 minutes in between meetings, but the next thing on your list would take you at least 30 minutes, tackle a smaller task first. You will work and think best and more efficiently if you can complete a full task in one sitting, rather than asking your brain to stop mid-creativity and move on to a different subject.
  5. No matter how busy you get, never overload yourself with one segment of your life. When you’re busy with deadlines and necessary duties, it can be tempting to say, “I don’t have time to work out tonight, my (work, cleaning, chores, etc.) are piling up! I’ll just put the extra time in on these today, and workout tomorrow.”
  6. Keep a pen and paper available at all times. Don’t worry about remembering everything that needs to be done. Keep a journal with you at all times so you can quickly jot down things you need to do, ideas for that next social media post, groceries you previously forgot to add to the shopping list, etc.

How do you prioritize at work?

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