March 30, 2021

Best practices to prioritize tasks

by Erika

Have you ever sat down with your to-do list and felt overwhelmed with the large number of tasks that you have scheduled for the day? Whether you manage your to-do list in your notebook, whether you use a calendar or other to-do list app, there is a big chance that you have found yourself at this kind of situation.  

In many cases, this comes as the result of deferring tasks from the day before. The stress increases when you see your calendar and few meetings planned on the day. This post will focus on the best ways to help you prioritize the to-do list and remove or at least reduce this problem of too many things to do.

 

1. Pick a number of tasks 

 

To begin with, you should make a list of all the to-do tasks (of the week, month etc.). 

The next step would be to pick a number of tasks to complete on the day. The day can include smaller tasks that are more routine or of less importance or urgency, but it should not go over the limit of overall 5 major tasks a day. This would reduce the stress and disappointment, increase positivity and you will motivate yourself by saying:

I only have to complete X tasks today” 

The remained tasks should be divided to other days of the week. But you should use the limit of only 1 deferred task for the day. Keep in mind that prioritization continues throughout the week and single day overload is reduced. 

 

2. Sort tasks into categories by importance 

 

Take those tasks and assign each a priority based on importance and urgency. That means deciding not to do things you’d really like to do. It also means deciding what’s the most important and valuable task even when everything on your list feels crucial. The exercise here is to weigh each task against the others in order to determine where to start first. 

Some say that is beneficial to try to do the task that you don’t want to do at the beginning of the day. Completing difficult tasks first makes the remaining ones easier, as well as creates a positive aura for the day ahead (minimizing the procrastination and avoiding of a certain goal).  

 

3. Consider the time required for each task 

 

Look at your agenda of the day and see how much time you think you’ll have to devote to items on your task list. It’s possible that you’ll have 2 or more similarly important activities vying for your attention at the same time. Even though they are both urgent, they do not take the same amount of time to complete. Therefore, try to underestimate how much you can get done and overestimate how long each task will take. 

If while doing a certain task you notice that it prolongs in your planned schedule – you should summarize it up and move to the next task. Then, your overall list of the day won’t suffer. You can go back to that tasks once you finish all the other ones according to the situation or finish it up the next day.  

 

4. Breaking down to smaller tasks 

 

In some cases, it’s also helpful to break your tasks down into smaller tasks to better assign relative prioritizations. Thus, the big tasks become smaller meaningful steps in the whole task accomplishment. The process of splitting tasks into smaller units can calm you down, make it seem less intimidating and far more manageable. 

 

All in all, don’t let the long to-do list stress you out.  Just don’t forget to add tasks to your task-management tools that suit you. This way, you will be able to track their progress and keep up the motivation!

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