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How To Prioritize Your Tasks At Work

Last updated October 20, 2020

The difference between a good and bad decision at work often comes down to how well you're able to organize priorities. Spending too much time on tasks that don't matter much (low priorities) can detract from your efforts at completing tasks that matter a great deal (top priorities). But how do you identify what top priorities at work are? And how can you reliably distinguish them from low priorities? Give this method a try!

1. Make a list of all your work responsibilities

man with a long list

Don’t worry about the order, or how long the list is—just write down everything that, at this moment, you know you need to get done.

2. Go through your list and mark every responsibility that needs to be finished SOON.

For this step, you’re just checking to see if you have any work that needs to be done right now, like if your manager asked you to re-stock merchandise, or count cash at the register. Urgent tasks that can’t be blown off or postponed without major consequences are, in general, top priorities.

3. Once you've taken care of urgent deadlines, put work tasks in order by how long you think it will take you to finish them.

man checking the time

Some people work best by tackling work that takes the most time to complete first, others prefer to take care of the easy work before moving on to their lengthier duties. Whichever system works for you, use this final, narrowed down list to guide how you spend your time.

4. With an organized to-do list, even if problems pop up (and they will), you're less likely forget tasks & drop the ball at work.

Random problems at work can send you into a spiral of bad decisions at work. Keeping your priorities organized, in writing, will keep your ship steady. Go forth!

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