Put these into practice and you’ll never wonder what to work on first again!
Tip #1: Be realistic
You’ll never get everything done, so you may as well accept that now. Those tasks that are at the bottom of your To Do list aren’t urgent or important enough to work on right now. It will be easier for you to focus on the important tasks once you realize that your time is limited and that you have to get realistic about what you can achieve in a day.
If something does become urgent or important, it will naturally rise to the top of the To Do list and you can deal with it then.
Tip #2: Use task management software
It’s impossible to manage your To Do list effectively if it is split between sticky notes, a notebook, an online system and your diary. Pick one way of managing your tasks and keep to it.
Tip #3: Create a prioritization code
Find a way of categorizing project tasks that means something for you. That could be High, Medium and Low or giving them a number from one to three. You could use colors and mark the tasks red, yellow or green. Choose something visual that will work on screen and on paper. This will help wherever you are making notes as you’ll be able to instantly tell what you should be working on first.
Remember, just because a task is marked on your list as Low priority now, it won’t necessarily stay that way. Keep going back to your task list and reviewing the priorities that you have allocated to each item. You’ll have to update your categorization as and when something becomes more urgent or important.
Tip #4: Delegate
What can you give other people to do? It might feel as if you have to keep a lot of the project tasks for yourself but there probably are other people on the team who could complete them just as well as you. Look at the workload of the whole team and think about who could take on a few extra tasks.
You could delegate the high priority work but you might feel better if you can keep control of that and delegate some of the work that you have categorized as of lower importance. It depends on how much you can count on your team members and whether you think they will be able to turn around urgent work quickly given their existing workload. However you decide to delegate, it will really help you as it frees up your time to do other priority work and makes you think about how you should be spending your time most effectively.
Tip #5: Ask your sponsor
Still not clear about where your priorities should be? You can always get a second opinion. Talk to your sponsor about what tasks he or she thinks are the most important for moving the project forward. Or take advice from your mentor or a close colleague. Then focus your time and energy into completing those tasks. Just be sure to ‘sanity check’ the tasks that your sponsor highlights as important—they may be essential to your sponsor but not urgent or important to the project overall, so you may have to adapt your priorities accordingly.