How Prioritising Can Help You To Manage Yourself Better
Whether you are in the last stages of your degree or you have just started your first big job, chances are that multitasking and juggling multiple projects at a time is something you’ve been confronted with. It can get quite overwhelming and at times it feels as if you’ve just been flooded with a load of work, making it difficult to find the right starting point. Here are some useful tips on how to stay on top of your game with prioritising.
Make a list. Nothing like a good list to help you stay organised. Writing your tasks for the day or the week down does not only help to declutter your mind but it also gives peace of mind seeing it all written down on paper. Having to remember everything by heart can make some tasks seem bigger than they are, so this is the first step to feel a bit calmer. Plus, if you are someone who learns best when writing information down, this will help manifest it in your mind.
Visual help. This is a rather individual approach and works in different ways for different people but colour coding or using particular symbols for particular tasks might be an additional visual aid to your list. It can help to group tasks together – maybe by person, by department or by deadline – and helps you to spot them easier and quicker. Have you ever thought about starting a bullet journal?
Keep a tidy space. If you work from a desk a lot, make sure it’s tidy, clean and easy to work at. There’s nothing worse than having emptied your thoughts on to paper only for your work space to be so cluttered that you can’t get going!
When is it due? Start by prioritising your tasks according to their due date. It might help to make a daily ‘to do’-list and a separate weekly one to spread everything out and feel less overwhelmed.
How many steps does it involve to be completed? You might have to get information from different sources before you can start completing a specific task on your list, so keep those in mind and consider turnover time. Although something might not have to be done until the end of the week, if you have to contact three people in between, it could be useful to start today to put less pressure on yourself and on them. Likewise, other tasks could be just a phone call or an email away from completion.
Who is it for? Is this a job your boss has given you or has your colleague left something on your desk which you couldn’t say no to? Ask yourself which task might be more important considering who it is for. This is not to say that helping a colleague is not as important as doing something for your boss but having your work place’s hierarchy in mind could help with prioritising.
Outside factors. Think about the little things which are easy to forget: is someone going away who you might need to talk to? Are you going away soon or is your diary full with other commitments for the next few days, making it harder to allocate enough time to one task or another? Also consider factors such as time differences if you deal with international clients, colleagues or partners. As urgent as something might be, due to time difference, you might win some hours and don’t have to think about it until the afternoon.
Keep it with you. If you’re someone who is in and out your usual work space a lot, make sure you have your list on hand at all times. Whether you keep it on your phone or have a notebook and pen, having your ‘to do’-list with you ensures that you won’t forget anything once you’re working from somewhere else. It also helps to write phone numbers or email addresses down should you need to contact someone whose information you usually store at your desk.
Regular updates. Make sure that you update your list as you go along. Cross those tasks out that you have completed and update those who need extra steps with their respective progress. It helps to stay on top of everything and seeing the list slowly decrease is a bonus!
As with all things, practice makes perfect. This is the same with prioritising. Whilst having to deal with a variety of different tasks can seem a bit daunting at first, you will find your own routine over time which works best for you and your job.