Learning how to prioritise work is an essential capability to develop if you want to focus more time on the activities that will create the biggest impact.
If you currently have a hundred things on your to-do list, learning how to prioritise when everything’s important can be a challenge. But there is a big difference between busyness and being productive. Using the prioritisation technique I’m about to share will help you accomplish more in less time.
When you can’t prioritise your time, energy and focus, it’s easy to feel scattered, distracted and overwhelmed. How would it feel if you had a simple process you could use every day to prioritise easily and stay focused on the things that matter most?
If that sounds good, let’s jump in.
The importance of prioritising
When you learn how to prioritise properly you can almost guarantee having a productive day every day. Being able to prioritise effectively ensures you have clarity up front about your most important work each day. This helps you stay focused and productive, rather than feeling distracted and stressed.
Understanding the importance of setting priorities each day means you can identify and maintain a clear focus on achieving your most important goals first. Setting priorities also ensures you don’t get overwhelmed with tasks, allowing your energy and motivation to stay high throughout the day
Benefits of prioritising
There are numerous benefits of prioritising work to help you reduce stress, become more focused and be more productive. Here are 7 simple benefits of prioritisation:
1. Prioritisation simplifies your to-do list
Learning how to prioritise simplifies your to-do list so you don’t get overwhelmed with too many tasks each day. If you have too many items on your to-do list, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and not know where to start. Prioritisation helps you identify your most important activities, rather than just having a list of stuff to do
2. You feel like you’re always making progress
When you’re clear on your most important activities and you complete them each day, you always feel like you’re making progress. This boosts your self-confidence and increases motivation.
3. Prioritisation stops you trying to do too much
We often try to do too much each day, piling up too many things on our to-do list. Not completing your to-do can drop self-esteem and builds up your activity list for the following day.
Being able to prioritise effectively ensures you identify and focus only on the things that matter.
4. You’re focused on your most important work
Learning how to prioritise ensures you focus your time and energy on your most important work. Our most important work is always energising and exciting meaning you’re always excited to get started.
5. You replace busyness with productivity
Many people assume being busy is the same as being productive, but they are two different things entirely. We can often feel busy by completing low value tasks or ticking off items off a to-do list.
Learning how to prioritise forces you to identify the tasks and activities that actually deliver the results you want, and ensures you work on those activities above all else. Read more about how to be more productive.
6. You’re excited rather than distracted
Doing activities that aren’t exciting or motivating leads to procrastination and distraction. Prioritising the work that you’re most excited about ensures you get that work done.
7. Prioritisation ensures you know what to do every day
How would it feel if you knew exactly what to work on first every day? We often waste hours doing low value work because we’re not clear on our goals and priorities.
Learning how to prioritise ensures you know exactly what to do every morning and understand the impact that work will have.
How to prioritise: a simple process to stay focused
If you want to learn how to prioritise better and stay focused every day, use this simple process.
Step 1. Get clear on your goals to improve prioritisation
If you want to improve your prioritisation, the first step is to get clear on a specific goal or outcome you want to achieve by a specific deadline. Ensure the goal is measurable and has a deadline attached to it.
This could be a daily goal, weekly goal, monthly goal or quarterly goal. Having a clear goal to work towards helps you get clear on what’s most important and allows you to prioritise specific activities over others.
Learn more about effective goal setting.
Step 2. Make a prioritised task list of 3-5 items
Now that you have the end goal you want to achieve, and the date you want to achieve it by, work backwards to the present day.
Lay out the 3-5 biggest priorities you want to undertake to make progress towards achieving those goals. This is your daily action plan.
There are always lots of activities you could undertake to make progress towards your goals. But, identifying only three to five activities each day helps you focus on the activities that really matter and will make the biggest difference.
A good starting point is to lay out these priority activities the night before, so you’re excited to get started in the morning.
Step 3. Review your priorities in the morning
To ensure you’re prioritising the right activities each day, take five minutes in the morning to review the activities you’ve identified.
If you still feel they’re your biggest priorities, move to step four. If not make the necessary changes so you still feel excited and motivated.
Step 4. Identify your biggest priority
You may feel like everything on your list is a priority, but there will always be one activity that will create the biggest impact and progress. Identify your top three activities in order.
To help you do this, imagine what difference it will make, and the result it will achieve when your priority activities have been completed. This will help you identify the number one difference maker.
Step 5. Take action on your number one priority
Then take action on the activity you identified as your number one priority. Once completed, move onto priority two and then priority three.
If you’re not excited and motivated to take action on your biggest priority, you may need to review your priority list.
Step 6. Celebrate progress at the end of the day
To stay focused and motivated, it’s important to celebrate progress at the end of each day. Write down three things that you achieved that day, and the difference they made.
It’s also important to review what worked and what didn’t work. This will ensure you have identified the right priorities, and that you don’t have too many or too few priorities.
Then take five minutes to lay out your three to five priorities for the following day, so you end the day energised and motivated.
There are lots of methods for prioritising your tasks. This is a very simple process that has helped me, and my coaching clients prioritise their most important work and stay focused every day.
Give it a try and see how you get on.
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