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Prioritizing Tasks


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Productivity is one of the key parts of becoming a successful leader. No matter what field you are in you need to make sure you can take on whatever tasks your role requires in the best possible way, if you are to succeed in driving your business forwards.

But getting things done is about much more than just tackling each task in turn. You need to be able to assess those tasks to ensure you tackle them in the right order, otherwise you run the risk of failing to meet an important deadline.

It's clear then that you need some kind of strategy to make sure you prioritize everything effectively, enabling you to work to the best of your ability while also fending off stress. This can often arise in people with a lack of discipline and logic; if you deal with things in a haphazard way then you run the risk of forgetting an important task or completing it late, which adds to your stress levels and can jeopardize your position. If you feel you need assistance in developing this skill, consider whether additional management training would be of help.

The key to sorting out your priorities is to make a list of all the things that need doing. This step alone helps to clear your head and gets your thoughts down on paper, making them concrete instead of vague. Once it is written down it is very hard to forget something.

By assessing tasks in terms of urgency and importance you can decide which tasks to “bin", which to delegate to be done by someone else or perhaps even to say no to. This will then leave the ones to be attended to by you and to be focused on in order of urgency.

In identifying the tasks to focus on, try thinking in terms of “the next logical step". Often tasks can become overpowering purely because we are looking at the task in totality instead of breaking it down into “bite sized pieces".

By breaking tasks down into shorter term deadlines can also move them from the “to do" list to a diarised event.

Divide the number of days you have available by the amount of work that is involved and make time on each day to do a specific amount towards that task.

You should also consider whether you will need any assistance from other team members to help you with meeting your priorities. If so you will need to brief them in plenty of time for them to get their part of the task done. This is an excellent team building exercise that everyone can learn from.

One other thing that is worth bearing in mind is that no plan for prioritizing tasks ever remains untouched. Just as you successfully complete a particular job you will find that something else comes along to take its place. In this situation you should review your list of priorities to see where the new task will fit into the overall picture.

Prioritizing your tasks is a constant effort. The more you do it the more experienced you will become in assigning various levels of importance to new work as it comes in, and you will become a better leader as a result, as others will see you implementing these methods and may start to use them themselves.

Timothy Millett, head trainer at i perform, has extensive expertise in performance training, sales training and customer service training. Tim has helped participants from organisations such as SWIFT and UBS achieve peak levels of personal performance. For more information please visit Management Training .


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