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How to Prioritize Work: 7 Practical Methods for When "Everything is Important"

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How to Prioritize Work: 7 Practical Methods for When "Everything is Important"
One of the biggest struggles in the modern workplace is knowing how to prioritize work. Workloads are ballooning and everything feels important. However, the truth is that a lot of the work we do every day doesn't really need to be done. At least not right away.

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Learning how to prioritize...

...means getting more out of the limited time you have each day. It’s one of the cornerstones of productivity and once you know how to properly prioritize, it can help with everything fro...

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Master lists

Master lists

Capture everything on a Master List and then break it down by monthly, weekly, and daily goals.

  1. Start by making a master list—a document, app, or piece of paper where every...

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Eisenhower Matrix

Eisenhower Matrix

The matrix is a simple four-quadrant box that answers that helps you separate “urgent” tasks from “important” ones:

  • Urgent and Important: Do these tasks as soon as possible...

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The Ivy Lee Method

Rank your work by its true priority with the Ivy Lee Method:

  1. At the end of each work day, write down the 6 most important things you need to accomplish tomorrow. 
  2. ...

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The ABCDE method

The ABCDE method

Instead of keeping all tasks on a single level of priority, this method offers two or more levels for each task:

  • Go through your list and give every task a letter from A...

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Set the tone of the day by “Eating the frog”

Once you’ve prioritized your most important work, it’s time to actually choose how to attack the day.

How you start the day sets the tone for the rest of it. And often, getting a large, hairy...

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Warren Buffett’s 2-list strategy

Warren Buffett’s 2-list strategy
Cut out “good enough” goals with Warren Buffett’s 2-list strategy.
  1. Write down your top 25 goals: life goals, career goals, education goals, or anything else you want to spend...

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The sunk cost fallacy

Humans are especially susceptible to the “sunk cost fallacy”—a psychological effect where we feel compelled to continue doing something just because we’ve already put time and effort into it.

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SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

Ruthless prioritization

It means deciding not to do things you'd really like to do. It also means deciding what's the most important task even when everything on your list feels crucial.

But if you can prioritize...

Consolidate All of Your Tasks Into a Single Source

To-dos arrive from a variety of sources. Your boss sends you an email, you get a Slack message from IT, a bill arrives in the mail, or a coworker asks for a favor in the hallway.

In order to prioritize your task list efficiently, you need a master to-do list that contains all of the tasks you need to prioritize and complete from all of those sources.

Analyze Your Task List

Go through your list, review each task, and decide what you want to do with it. You have 4 options:

  • Do: complete the task now
  • Defer: complete it later
  • Delegate: assign it to someone else
  • Delete: remove it from your list

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Personal Operations Category

  • Task management. This one is most commonly taught and includes systems like Getting Things Done.
  • Knowledge management. This is embodied in systems like productivity educa...

What's on your plate

Prioritizing tasks at work involves getting all your tasks and commitments in one place.  Take a piece of paper and make a list of everything you need to get done. Questions to help you:

  • Do you have commitments to others like your boss, partner, kids, or clients?
  • Do you have anything you need to submit? 
  • Do you have any financial tasks that need to get done? 
  • Do you have any planning that needs to get done? 
  • Do you have any administrative tasks? Legal, insurance, staffing, or training?
  • Do you have any professional development tasks that need to get done? Training, areas to research, skills to develop, books to read or study, or classes to take?

Brainstorm your goals

Find your goals. Without them, it is impossible to prioritize your tasks. Try to set 90-day goals, which is long enough to make meaningful progress. Questions to prompt goals:

  • What’s the one thing you could do that makes everything else easier or unnecessary?
  • If you were giving advice to someone else in your position, what 1-3 things would you tell them to focus on?
  • What do you want to have accomplished over the next five years?

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'Eat that Frog'

This is a productivity method developed by Brian Tracy. The 'frog' refers to the most important and most impactful task you have to complete.

If you work on it first thing e...

Clarify your goals

If you don't know what your goals are, most likely you won't be able to identify and prioritize the specific tasks you need to work on to achieve those goals. 

Write your major goals down and break them into tasks. Your goal tasks are your frogs, the things you want to work on first thing every day for greater productivity and success.

Think long-term

... to make better short-term decisions.

If you question the consequences of doing/not doing a to-do before you start on it, it not only makes it easier to find your frogs, but it also makes it easier to find time-wasting tasks that are better deleted from your list or delegated to someone else.

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