Will Turner

Article Summary:

Guidelines for how to prioritize work.

How to Prioritize Work

Prioritizing is determining what needs to get done and in what order. Your priorities should be items that come directly from your goals. Here are some ideas to help you stay focused on your most important tasks.

1. Use the Pareto Principle.
This is the same as the 80/20 rule. Recognize that 20% of your activities give you 80% of the value. So focus on the high impact tasks. Ask yourself, "Am I doing the things that give me the most value?"

2. Separate the urgent from the important.
Once you’ve separated your "to do list" into urgent and important, you should focus your energy on the important tasks. Urgent issues are rarely important in the big scheme of things. Often times, other people will try to push their crises (urgencies) onto you. Don’t let poor planning or execution from someone else become your problem unless it is absolutely necessary.

3. Determine the future impact.
Ask yourself, "What is the future impact of a current action?" High priority items will have a big future impact. Low priority items will have no (or negligible) future impact.

4. Set posteriorities.
If you are embarking on something new, you must decide what you are going to give up. You’ can’t continue to accept new responsibilities without getting rid of others.

5. Learn to say "no."
Learning to say "no" can be difficult, but it is a necessary skill if you want to stay focused on the things that are most important to you. Ask yourself, does the assignment, activity or responsibility align with your overall goals? If the answer is "no," then decline the temptation to get involved.

6. Use the A, B, C; 1, 2, 3 system.
List everything you need to do on your "To Do List." Go through your list and identify those items that absolutely have to get done today. These are critical tasks that are very important. Sometimes these items are important and urgent. Mark them with an "A." Now, go through your "A" list and prioritize by marking your most important item as "A1" and your next most important item as "A2," etc.

Once you’ve identified your "A" items, mark your "B" items. These are tasks that are important but are not as time-sensitive or as critical to your success as the "A" items. Go through the same process as above and prioritize your "B" items using a 1,2,3 numbering system. Finally, do the same thing with your "C" items which are not as pressing or important as your "A" or "B" items. As you complete the items, based on priority, on your "To Do List," you can check them off.

To keep your prioritizing from being derailed during the day, make sure that any items that are added to your list during the day are put on your list and ranked relative to the other items. This will prevent you from handling interruptions before tasks that are truly more important. You don’t have to reorganize your whole list, just insert the new item in order of importance. For example, a task could become "A2.5" which means you would work on it after your previously marked "A2" task and before your "A3" task.

7. Outsource or delegate.
If you have the ability to outsource or delegate, do so with tasks that can be easily handled by others. This will free you up to work on more important priorities. Remember to follow-up to make sure the tasks were completed to your satisfaction and give feedback as necessary to ensure things will be handled correctly in the future.

Will Turner is the Founder and President of Dancing Elephants Achievement Group. Will has trained thousands of salespeople and business owners and authored over 100 articles on sales-related topics. He is also the creator of dozens of sale seminar programs, as well as the Sales Magnetism program which helps salespeople move beyond consultative selling to the next level of client relationships. He is the co-author of Six Secrets of Sales Magnets. For more information visit Dancingelephants.net

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