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How to Prioritize Work Tasks: The Ultimate Guide to Priority Management

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How to Prioritize Work Tasks: The Ultimate Guide to Priority Management
"Plans are useless, but planning is indispensable." Dwight Eisenhower One of the primary frameworks I use in my work is something I call the business production function. It's a diagnostic tool that lets me quickly look at the four big categories of business and asks: which one of these is the current limit?

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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...

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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...

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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:

...

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Your Top 1-3 Goals

Prioritize your list of possible goals using and expected value (EV) calculation. Expected Value = Resources Required x Return on Investment x Probability of Success

Take the list of everythi...

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The ABCDE Method

The ABCDE Method

This method consists of ranking your tasks into five categories.

  • A – Very important, must be done at all costs.
  • B – Pretty important, but the consequences aren’t as serious if it...

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Eisenhower Priority Matrix

The priority matrix allows you to look through your to-do list and categorize based on their urgency and importance.

  • Quadrant 1 - Urgent and important. This is anything due soon o...

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The Marshall Matrix

Categorize your tasks by how much value they generate for you or your company. Tasks can be assigned as either $10/hour, $100/hour, $1,000/hour or $10,000/hour.

We might think of the value of...

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The Not-To-Do List

Some examples of things that often waste time:

  • Checking business stats (traffic, sales) every day if there is nothing actionable to be done with them.
  • Going back...

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Prioritize by Energy Level

  • Maker Time: Maker work requires long amounts of uninterrupted time, like coding, designing or writing.  The peak energy part of your day is most suited for this.
  • Ma...

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The Beginning of Each Week

Update all the tasks on your list and prioritize them. Then put them on your calendar based around your energy levels. Ask "Given my current energy level, what's the most valuable task I can do ...

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Schedule Your Day

At the start of each day, look over your calendar and task list for that day, and quickly write down three things you are grateful for your priorities of the day.

Writing on paper makes it le...

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SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

Make planning a habit

Make planning a habit

Some mornings we feel motivated to create a to-do list, but that is often the exception. We need to get things done, even when we feel disengaged.

Start by setting the alarm for you...

Align your to-do list with goals

  1. Break down your big goals into daily tasks. You can't add "Get in shape" to your daily to-do list, but you can add "spend 30 minutes on my bike."
  2. Consider your week as a whole. You likely have multiple goals. Some goals benefit from daily activity, while working towards others a few times a week can create momentum.
  3. Add your have-to-do tasks last. We often fill our to-do lists with have-to-do tasks that crowd the whole day. Adding it last forces you to fit your have-to-do tasks around your goal tasks.

Have one daily priority

Many of us start our mornings with dozens of things we need to get done, but later realize that we haven't crossed any of them off our lists. We did get stuff done, but none of the things we planned.

A balm against hectic days that pass without progress is to choose a single activity to prioritize and protect in your calendar. If you struggle to select your top priority, ask yourself, when you look back on your day, what do you want the highlight to be? That's your priority.

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Getting an early start

Getting an early start

Plan your morning the night before and stick to your plan. 
If a new task comes in that isn’t 100% urgent, designate a time that you’ll work on it uninterrupted or try to delegate the probl...

Deciding where to work

  • If you know you’re more likely to work from home, invest in comfortable furniture; you feel good it will inspire you to get work done.
  • If you want to join a local co-working space but are intimidated by the price point, ask about smaller memberships to start.

Prioritizing tasks

Don’t let your skepticism about productivity hacks get in the way of finding a technique that suits you and helps you get things done.
If you’re still having a hard time identifying priorities, try working backward by identifying work that’s definitely not a priority. Eliminate those items and assess what’s left.

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Denying you have a problem

Stop saying that you don't have enough time to complete your commitments.

Admit that you need to get better at managing your time and start searching and trying techniques that will help you ...

Not planning your day

It's important to have an idea of what your daily priorities are and tasks you need to complete, preferably the night before. 

Also, make sure you prepare in the evening the outfit you're going to wear and the meals for the following day. Doing this will save time in the morning, and reduce decision fatigue.

"Urgent" vs "Important"

Take all of your tasks and place them into four quadrants:

  • To do first: the most important responsibilities that need to be done today or tomorrow.
  • Schedule: important tasks that are not urgent.
  • Delegate: essential items that are not important.
  • Don't do: tasks that aren't important or urgent. 

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