How to effectively prioritize tasks in the workplace

    How to effectively prioritize tasks in the workplace

    Task prioritization is like ice cream: you eat what's melting first.  We’ve all been in the situation where you start your work day, open up ...

    Task prioritization is like ice cream: you eat what’s melting first. 

    We’ve all been in the situation where you start your work day, open up your to-do list, and there it is: an avalanche of all the tasks you need to complete. Order packaging, think of designs for your next marketing campaign, find a photographer… And all of these tasks matter, of course. At some point, all of them seem urgent.

    This is the case with many, especially small business owners who have to handle a lot by themselves. But there’s a sure way out of juggling all these tasks: prioritization. Spend some time developing your prioritization strategies and save yourself time spent stressing out over what needs to be done.

    In this article, we’ll talk about why prioritizing tasks matter, and provide you with some actionable tips and prioritization techniques to help you work smarter, not harder.

    Why task prioritization matters

    As humans, we’re most effective when we stay focused. Task prioritization can help you be more productive, meet deadlines, maintain a healthy working routine, and have enough time to rest. 

    If you don’t prioritize, you’ll have a backlog of work and fall into an anxious loop of trying to complete everything in an unreasonable amount of time. When your tasks aren’t put in the proper order, you can find yourself chaotically switching between assignments. This can affect both your personal and your company’s performance.

    11 ways to prioritize work tasks 

    There are a number of proven prioritization techniques you can use to ensure productivity. Let’s learn how to prioritize tasks below. 

    Define a task prioritization method

    We recommend you use one of the following prioritization strategies — Eisenhower Matrix or Eat the frog.

    Eisenhower Matrix

    Eisenhower Matrix. First of all, we should know about what… | by Iqra Amjad  | Medium

    Source: Medium

    Eisenhower Matrix suggests that you order tasks based on the level or importance and urgency, and decide what to do with them. There are four types of tasks per Eisenhower that allow you to create a prioritized task list:

    • Urgent and important tasks. These are the priority tasks that you want to complete as soon as possible.
    • Important but not urgent tasks. You need to schedule the time you’ll do them.
    • Urgent but not important tasks. It’s best to delegate such low priority tasks.
    • Not urgent, not important tasks. See if you can eliminate these tasks from your to-do list.

    Eat the frog

    No, we’re not asking you to actually eat a frog, though you can try to (bonjour, French-inspired meals!). Eating the frog means you complete your most important task first thing in the morning. As you start your day, you are likely to have more energy and enthusiasm, so even the hardest tasks will be easy to complete. 

    Once you’ve completed your core task of the day, you can proceed to other, lesser important ones. 

    What Is Eat the Frog? A Dead Simple System for Productivity Minimalists

    Source: Todoist

    Create a master list 

    First things first, before you get down to accomplishing tasks, you want to know what’s on your list. Let’s say you’re planning your work month ahead (we hope you do). Create a master list of all the tasks you need to complete in a month — even include the small tasks. Don’t worry if the list seems too big — you’ll take it one step at a time.

    Then, split this list into weeks, days, or even hours to see which task is due when. Arrange them by priority level using the Eisenhower Matrix or any other option. For the tasks that are time sensitive, allocate the exact amount of time you’ll need to complete them to meet deadlines. 

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    Once you see the full picture, it’ll get easier to prioritize and plan your workload ahead.

    Color-code your tasks

    As you’ve arranged your tasks in a priority list, make it easier to distinguish them by color-coding. Use color stickers, felt pens, or even paint if you want to add some creativity to your to-do list. 

    For instance, you can give the most urgent tasks the red sticker, while the lesser important ones will be marked as green. This way, your brain will differentiate between all the tasks on the list and detect the most important ones.

    Work on one thing at a time

    Though it might be tempting to try to work on multiple projects at once, we’re just not made for it. In fact, multitasking can even have negative consequences for your short-term memory, as well as the ability to think creatively and generate new ideas. Ensure you work on one task at a time for maximum efficiency. 

    Explore our take on methods to fight multitasking

    Remove distractions

    Emails, work calls from colleagues, and “we’re in a rush, and we need it ASAP” requests can be distracting. And you have to learn how to eliminate distractions if you really want to achieve what is key for you. 

    If you use a project management tool or a messenger like Slack, set your status to “do not disturb” so that your colleagues know it’s best to approach you later. Mute your mobile so that you don’t receive phone calls. Instead of dozens of hovering tabs with different projects, open the one you’re working on. 


    And you also want to know how to delegate tasks. We bet you can approach different team members and ask them to help you out. It’s best to delegate tasks that are urgent but not important, as per Eisenhower Matrix.

    As you delegate, make sure you create a thorough technical assignment for your team members to follow. Write down what’s important about these tasks, list the key deliverables and performance indicators, and more. Monitor the progress of the assigned tasks and don’t forget to thank your employees for helping you out. 

    Learn to say “no”

    “No” is a powerful word. Sometimes, you want to be good to everyone and take on more tasks or responsibilities than you are supposed to. But ask yourself: how does this affect your productivity? Aren’t you taking on someone else’s job? Will you have time to complete other tasks if you agree?

    Decide on what’s important and learn to say no to other requests. Be polite, moderate, explain your stance well — and your colleagues will understand. 

    Try out time management techniques 

    You’ve probably heard of the Pomodoro technique. It suggests that you stay focused on one task for 25 minutes, then take a 5 minute break, and repeat. With this technique, you secure the given amount of time for a task, work with no distractions, and then reward yourself with a good break.

    Check out what we’ve previously written on time management tips that actually work

    Be serious about what you can and can’t accomplish

    Sometimes, you fail in task prioritization because you just take on too much. Task prioritization also requires that you strike a delicate balance between what can be realistically done and what can’t. 

    No one has more than 24 hours in a day (although some wish to). You shouldn’t be too hard on yourself, trying to complete more than a normal person is capable of. Of course, this has a lot to do with your personal productivity, but we urge you to be considerate of yourself here. Take on what you really can accomplish, and give yourself more time for larger tasks. 

    Allocate time to relax

    To be truly effective and productive, you have to make relaxation a part of your daily routine. As you do with work calls, allocate some time in your schedule to doing… Nothing. Take a stroll around the house. Play your favorite music playlist. Mess around with your pet or try aromatherapy. 

    Once you feel more relaxed, it will be easier for you to prioritize important work assignments and complete them. For more, discover our take on how to relax at work to restore your energy.

    Save time by using premade design solutions

    At VistaCreate, we offer tons of readily available solutions for your design projects. From social media posts to outdoor advertising — you can pretty much find anything. Next time you’re in need of a unique design, simply head to VistaCreate’s library of templates and get your visual ready in minutes. 

    Key takeaways

    Let’s recap our findings on task prioritization below. 

    • Prioritizing work is important as it allows you to ensure your productivity and company’s success.
    • You can try out different prioritization methods such as Eat the frog or Eisenhower Matrix to define your top priority.
    • Before you start on your tasks, arrange them into a master list to see your monthly, weekly, and daily priorities.
    • As you prioritize work, learn how to say “no” and delegate tasks to your team members.
    • Measure what you can and can’t realistically accomplish and allocate some time for proper rest.
    • On top of that, don’t go too hard on yourself and always remember to keep your main task your main priority.

    Mariia Shnyrkova

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