If you want to focus more time on the activities that will create the biggest impact, learning how to prioritize your work is an essential capability to develop.
Learning how to prioritize when you currently have a hundred things on your to-do list, can be challenging. But there is a big difference between being busy and being productive. Using the prioritization technique I’m about to share with you below, you will be able to accomplish more in less time.
If you are having difficulty prioritizing your time, energy and focus, it’s easy to feel scattered, distracted and overwhelmed. I can offer you a simple process that you can use every day to prioritize easily and stay focused on the things that matter most.
If that sounds good, let’s jump in.
The importance of prioritizing
Being able to prioritize effectively ensures you have clarity up front and prioritize your most important work each day. When you learn how to prioritize properly you become focused and productive, rather than feeling distracted and stressed. You can almost guarantee having a productive day every day.
Understanding the importance of setting priorities each day ensures you don’t get overwhelmed with tasks and this allows your energy and motivation to stay high throughout the day. This means you can identify and maintain a clear focus on achieving your most important goals first.
Benefits of prioritizing
There are numerous benefits of prioritizing your work, which helps you reduce stress, become more focused and be more productive. Here are 7 simple benefits of prioritization:
1. Prioritization simplifies your to-do list
Effective prioritization simplifies your to-do list so you don’t get overwhelmed with too many tasks each day. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and not know where to start, if you have too many items on your to-do list and prioritization helps you identify your most important activities, rather than just having a list of to-do items.
2. You feel like you’re always making progress
When you’re clear on what your most important activities are and you complete them each day, you always feel like you’re making progress. This boosts your self-confidence and increases motivation.
3. Prioritization stops you trying to do too much
Being able to prioritize effectively ensures you identify and focus only on the things that matter.
We often put too much on ourselves and try to do too much each day, piling up too many things on our to-do list. Not completing your to-do can drop self-esteem and builds up your activity list for the following day. But once you have prioritized your most important tasks and have them completed, you regain your self-esteem.
4. You’re focused on your most important work
Learning how to prioritize ensures you focus your time and energy on your most important work. Our most important work is always energizing and exciting meaning you’re always excited to get started.
5. You replace being busy with being productive
We often feel busy by completing low value tasks or ticking off items off a to-do list. Many people assume that being busy is the same as being productive, but they are two different things entirely.
Learning how to prioritize forces you to identify the tasks and activities that actually deliver the results you want, and ensures you work on those activities above all else.
6. You become excited rather than distracted
We can have a hard time doing activities that aren’t exciting or motivating and this leads to procrastination and distraction. Prioritizing the work that you’re most excited about ensures you get that work done.
7. Prioritization ensures you know what to do every day
How would it feel if you knew exactly what to work on first every day? We often waste hours doing low value work because we’re not clear on our goals and priorities.
Learning how to prioritize ensures you know exactly what to do every morning and understand the impact that work will have.
How to prioritize: a simple process to stay focused
If you want to learn how to prioritize better and stay focused every day, use this simple process.
Step 1. Get clear on your goals to improve prioritization
To improve your ability to prioritize, the first step is to get clear on a specific goal or outcome you want to achieve by a specific deadline. Ensure the goal is measurable and has a deadline attached to it.
This could be a daily goal, weekly goal, monthly goal or quarterly goal. Having a clear goal to work towards helps you get clear on what’s most important and allows you to prioritize specific step by step activities to move toward that goal, and spend less time on other activities.
Step 2. Make a prioritized task list of 3-5 items
Now that you have the end goal you want to achieve, and the date you want to achieve it by, work backwards to the present day.
When you lay out the 3-5 biggest priorities you want to undertake to make progress towards achieving your priority goals, this becomes your daily action plan.
There are always lots of activities you could undertake to make progress towards your goals. But by identifying the top three to five activities you can accomplish each day helps you focus on the activities that really matter and will make the biggest difference.
A good practice and place to start is to lay out your priority activities the night before, so you’re excited to get started in the morning.
Step 3. Review your priorities in the morning
To ensure you’re prioritizing the right activities each day, take five minutes in the morning to review the activities you’ve identified, to make sure these are still your biggest goals and priorities.
If you still feel they’re your biggest priorities, move to step four. If not make the necessary changes so you still feel excited and motivated.
Step 4. Identify your biggest priority
You may feel like everything on your list is a priority, but there will always be one activity that will create the biggest impact and progress, and stand out above the others. This will help you identify the number one difference maker.
Identify your top three activities in order. To help you do this, imagine what difference it will make, and the result it will achieve when your priority activities have been completed.
Step 5. Take action on your number one priority
Then take action on the activity you identified as your number one priority. Once completed, move onto priority two and then priority three.
If you’re not excited and motivated to take action on your biggest priority, you may need to review your priority list.
Step 6. Celebrate progress at the end of the day
It is so important to celebrate our wins. To stay focused and motivated, it’s important to celebrate the progress you made at the end of each day. Write down three things that you achieved that day, and the difference they made.
It’s also important to review what worked and what didn’t work. This will ensure you have identified the right priorities, and that you don’t have too many or too few priorities.
Then take five minutes to lay out your three to five priorities for the following day, so you end the day energized and motivated.
There are lots of methods for prioritizing your tasks. This is a very simple process that has helped me, and my coaching clients prioritize their most important work and stay focused every day.
Give it a try and see how you get on.