4 Prioritization Tips to Help You Focus on the Tasks That Matter

The workplace has many challenges that can impact success. Productivity, time management, and teamwork are common aspects of work life that are crucial. There is always one thing or another that needs to be accomplished on any given day. The big question is, how do you prioritize? 


Prioritization impacts outcomes in the workplace and if you are especially in a leadership role, you have a responsibility to see to it that objectives and goals are met. It doesn’t matter the scale of a project or the day’s tasks that need to be done, prioritization requires some thought. You have to figure out what matters most in a day and how to tackle it, while still being aware of the need to address the tasks that require less immediate attention. Here are some prioritization tips that you can consider to help you focus on the truly important tasks.


Create a Master List

There are different layers of prioritization when it comes to work-related tasks or goals. There are daily objectives that have to be completed by the end of the workday. There are weekly goals that you can tackle over the course of several days and monthly goals that the daily and monthly tasks fall under. With these different goals, it makes sense to separate them in order of importance. It is easy to lose track of what’s most important when you have several things that you need to get done. Some tasks may not be as urgent as you think and those that should be prioritized may fall by the wayside. 


Creating a master list, whether you use Google Doc, a sheet of paper or an app, can help you to prioritize your tasks. You should add both current and future tasks to this list, then separate them into daily, weekly and monthly goals. You need to know what the bigger goals are and align these daily, weekly and monthly goals with them. It’s hard not to be task-oriented, but you may find that making the more effective work a priority is more beneficial. This is where you consider the Pareto Principle—or, the 80/20 rule—which emphasizes that 20% of your work drives 80% of your outcomes or results.


Urgent vs. Important

Prioritizing helps you to produce the best results whether in a traditional workspace or a coworking space. How do you accomplish that? You can use your experience to help, but having a tool that is designed to help specifically is even better. The tool here is the Eisenhower Matrix, which was created by former US president Dwight Eisenhower and features a four-quadrant box (urgent-important matrix) that helps you decide on and prioritize tasks that are urgent and important, separating out less urgent and important tasks to be delegated or not perform entirely. 


The urgent and important tasks should be done right away or as soon as possible; important, but not urgent tasks should be scheduled; urgent, but not important tasks should be delegated to another individual, and tasks that are neither urgent nor important should be dropped from your schedule. Keep in mind that the important tasks are the major contributors to long-term goals and mission.



Anticipate and Manage Anxiety

Another of the prioritization tips to know that anxiety may arise and manage it before it gets out of control. Work can be stressful and anxiety can impact productivity. Comb through your list and do a review of each task. Important tasks can stir feelings of anxiety about what could potentially go wrong. You have to learn to tolerate the anxiety while working to achieve your goals. You may be faced with performing a task for the first time that is out of your comfort zone. This may cause you to feel uneasy, but you have to build up tolerance against uncomfortable and unwanted emotions in order to keep your priorities in check. 


If you don’t have the skills to tackle your anxiety, learn how because you don’t want your emotions to get the better of you. When you manage and anticipate your anxiety, you can stay focused on the important tasks that will help you to achieve your broader goals. 


Hold Yourself Accountable

After determining the tasks that are important, you need to decide what to tackle first. Write this down and if you’re working with a team, share it with all those who are a part of that particular project in one way or another. Establish with others the due date or time that you’ll complete the work that you need to present to them and also set your own expectations for yourself regarding when you’ll work on your own tasks and how you plan on spending your time doing so. Keep your eyes on your to-do-list, do important tasks one at a time and be realistic about what you’ve accomplished.


These prioritization tips are some of the ways that you can stay on top of what is important and achieve your goals. Work-life can be challenging in many ways, but if you have the skills to keep your priorities in check, you will achieve the best results.