While all projects need priorities, the organisational process is easier said than done. You can count on chaos being the natural order of things when managing creative projects. Once you know how your tasks and time are prioritised, you realise that a lot of the work you feel is urgently necessary. Not immediately, at least. However, while the priority elements for your work are simple (i.e. know what tasks need to be performed and how important they are), there is no simple exercise. When priorities pile up, a clear system needs to be in place to take you under control.
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A priority master will have many advantages. You will do more, climb the work ladder quicker and enjoy more free time outside the workplace. However, everything starts with listing what you have to do. Write down what you need today, tomorrow, this week and this month to do at work. Don’t worry — we’re going to get there within a minute — just write it down.
Whilst it may appear to be an immediate strategy for time management, priority is essential in achieving long-term objectives. Understanding your work to be real—whether promoted, completed or changing your career—helps you identify tasks that are most relevant to these future outcomes. It may be a good idea to break these larger objectives into smaller, time-related objectives. For example, an annual objective can be reduced to monthly to-do lists, leading to weekly tasks, daily priorities, and so on.
The Matrix is a simple, four-quadrant box designed by former US President Dwight Eisenhower and helps you separate ‘urgent’ from ‘important’ tasks. Basically, you feel like you should react immediately to urgent tasks like emails, telephone calls, texts or news. Whilst important tasks contribute to your long-term mission, values and objectives. These are the steps of the matrix of Eisenhower:
It works well to assign relative priorities if your work list is quite static, but if you add several to-dos to your list daily, it becomes a task in itself to re-prioritize your list. It helps you to make a list of tasks you plan to perform every morning if you have to manage a lot of incoming to-dos.
Look at your schedule and see how long you believe today you will have to spend on items on your list of tasks. Next, however, choose from your list of the most important tasks you believe can be accomplished today. Unless you are ready to plan a list tomorrow, ignore everything else you may do.
Every day you work for the wrong objective, it doesn’t matter how efficient and efficacious you are, you will stray far away from your ultimate goal. This is why a reassessment of long-term objectives and priorities to ensure you are still on the right track is a good idea.Billionaire Warren Buffett explains how to execute this perfectly.
The first step is to set your top 25 objectives. These could be life objectives, career objectives, education objectives or something you want to spend your time on. Now round up your top five goals (if you do that right now, end up circling before you move on). Any objective you haven’t rounded ends up with a “Avoid at all costs.”
When the tasks at hand aren’t particularly difficult, it’s relatively simple to manage them concurrently. However, as the difficulty level rises, research shows that people in positions of power are more likely to prioritise a single goal, whereas people in low-power positions will continue to try to manage multiple priorities. This dual-task strategy has been linked to a decrease in performance, implying that the most important tasks are not completed to the highest standard.
A good day is guaranteed when you prioritise your work properly. It’s an amazing feeling to get to the end of the day and realise you’ve completed some important work. However, this is not always possible. Tasks take longer to complete than expected. Interruptions occur. And our days are filled with meetings and conversations. So, while knowing how to prioritise your most important work is important, you should also be realistic about how much you can actually accomplish.