Reaching a goal often requires the accomplishment of many tasks before any consummating success. Really, there is no end point. Clearing one hurdle only helps you move towards the next one. The greatest difficulty may be when we are faced with multiple challenges at the same time. It is hard to know which of the challenges to prioritise over the others, and figuring out which thing you should do first can seem like another job within itself. That’s because it is.
Prioritizing your tasks correctly is a vital step in getting things done effectively. If you try working on one thing when there is something else of greater importance waiting for you, you risk constant distraction and your work will suffer for it.
Building a list of tasks can be a great tool in helping you complete your work. Below is a list of techniques to help prioritize your tasks and do it in a manner where you can move confidently towards getting your work completed with quality in a timely manner.
Here, I will reference the use of a weekly to do list but something of a different time span(daily, monthly, bi-weekly, or even yearly) may work better for you.
NOT JUST A TO-DO LIST
Creating a list of things to do can sometimes make you feel like there is way to much to do. It can act as more of a deterrent from doing work when you feel like there are too many things to get done. It is better to make your list as a guide to things you are moving towards achieving.
Prioritize the items on you list from Top Priorities to those things of lower importance. This way you will know what to work and will not be distracted by the other things. Of course, if there are some things that have a deadline on them, they should be prioritized accordingly.
Remember, completing one thing will often give you more things to do. Don’t look for the end-point, look at the journey.
LENGTH OF LIST
When creating a list of things to do, the length and style of the list is something that is important to consider. What do we put on it? Do we only include professional tasks, or should we also include daily priorities such as grocery shopping and doing laundry?
There are positives and negatives to both sides of this coin. Listing even small personal tasks can make a list congested and make it feel somewhat overwhelming. But, it can also make your list more realistic by taking the simple daily tasks into account when they are often so easy to overlook.
On the other hand, making a small list of only essential working tasks can cause you to ignore some of the smaller tasks even though they are still important. Although, it can be a useful strategy when you have work of elevated importance to complete during the week.
The best technique is to experiment with each size and style to see what works best for you. Some weeks, one style of list might be better than another according to what things you need to get done.
HAVE A COACH
This does not necessarily need to be a coach in the professional sense, but if you feel it would benefit you, and you have the means of getting one, then it would certainly be something worth consideration.
For those of us who feel a professional is not worth the money, or that they simply don’t have the money, a friend, colleague, or loved one can suffice. This person should be someone you are comfortable in vocalizing your troubles and concerns with. This person should be a listener first(at least for this particular job).
You may not even need them to provide any real advice, sometimes just hearing yourself speak out your difficulties can help you prioritize your work and lead you in the right direction.
This is something that can be easy to forget about when you are making your list, but it is important to focus on. Tasks such as read your book, write in your journal, or exercise are very unspecific and can lead to ineffective action being taken.
At the end of the week, you may have only read two pages of your book, and while you’ve technically completed the task by word, you might not feel any sense of accomplishment.
Instead, make your goals concrete so you can see exactly what you are shooting for. Things like read three chapters in your book, write four journal entries,and exercise for 30 minutes three days this week are much easier goals to work towards and better to measure your success.
MAKING YOUR LIST AVAILABLE
A list of important tasks should be put in an important place. If you just put it in some app that you do not look at very often, it will be easy to forget about. Then, once you finally get around to looking at your list you may realize you are way behind schedule in completing the things.
It is best to put your list on paper and have it in a notebook that you carry around with you all the time. This way, it can be something you often see and are reminded of. Wherever you put it, make it a place that is important, so you can be reminded of the things that you need to do during the week.
These lists are NOT do-or-die. They are guidelines to a journey. If you do not get everything done in a week, it is not the end of the world, another week is coming right on it’s tail. Work hard at these things you’ve placed the greatest value on, and once you’ve accomplished done them well, you can move to the next item.