Most people, no matter what they do, struggle with prioritizing their work. When you consider that most of us have a lot of tasks, but not enough time to do them, a constant flow of emails, and numerous meetings, it is not hard to see why work prioritization is such a huge challenge.
Task prioritization sounds simple in theory, as you only need to know what you have to do and rank all your tasks by importance. Unfortunately, checking off tasks from our to-do list does not mean that we will get any real work done.
If you want to learn how to prioritize your workload and use remote workers time tracking to stick to your high-priority tasks, stick around as we will be exploring the how.
Organize your Tasks
The best way to prioritize your workload is to visualize everything you have on your plate.
Knowing what to spend your time on when you don’t know what tasks you have to do is next to impossible.
Here’s how to do that:
Draw up a List
The first and most crucial step to prioritize your work is to pull together everything that you have to get done in a day. Right now, you do not have to worry about the number of tasks you have to do. Just be sure not to forget anything, as adding the tasks you forgot later could most likely break your process.
Determine Urgent and Important Tasks
Next, take a look at all your tasks. Identify if you need to do any tasks in an urgent matter. Your critical tasks are the tasks that you have to finish by the end of the day without any excuses. Not completing those tasks on time most likely will negatively affect your business.
Take a closer look at all your tasks. All you should see are your important tasks.
A good way to determine what is ‘urgent’ or ‘important’ is to use a prioritization system.
Here are a couple you can try:
The Eisenhower Matrix: A popular technique for prioritization, the Eisenhower Matrix system sorts tasks into four different categories based on urgency and importance. That way, you can visualize exactly what to prioritize, and make sure you’re not doing urgent tasks at the expense of important tasks.
The ABCD Method: The ABCD method is a more straightforward approach whereby you assign a letter to each task based on importance, with ‘A’ being very important, and ‘D’ being least important.
Sort Tasks by Importance
When you have split your tasks into urgent and important groups, you need to rank all your important tasks by the level of importance for your business and yourself.
As a future general rule, you want to precisely recognize which types of tasks have the highest level of importance so that you can prioritize them faster in the future.
Another way to assess the importance of your tasks is to see how many people that task impacts. Most likely, the bigger the number of people a task affects, the more critical it is.
Sort Tasks by Effort
If you have a few tasks that you estimate are the same level of importance, you need to figure out which one will take you longer and do that task first.
Many productivity experts suggest that you eat the frog and do the biggest tasks, but if you do not have the energy right away, start with the smaller task and move up from there. Doing smaller tasks first could be a significant push to get you to do bigger tasks.
Set Clear Goals and Deadlines
Once you’ve sorted your tasks in order of urgency and importance, you need to set up clear timelines for their completion.
Without an idea of when you need to have the tasks finished, you’re just stumbling along in the dark. If you want to laser in on the most meaningful tasks and have the biggest impact on your strategic goals, you need to assign clear deadlines that you and your team can work to.
Set up clear objectives in the beginning based on whether the task can be completed in a few days or weeks, or whether it may take several months.
Once you’ve established these goals, you can set specific deadlines, which you can then add to your team’s shared calendar. Once they’re locked in, you have a timeline to follow, and any team member can - at a glance - see what tasks they need to focus their attention on at any moment.
Reflect and Refine
In business, just as in life, things change.
Circumstances change, stakeholders’ expectations change, and project scope can change.
As a result, you can’t be too rigid with your goals if you want to make sure you’re always focusing on the most meaningful tasks.
To make sure you stay on top of your projects and priorities, you can:
Set regular check-ins: Take a few minutes out of each day to make sure you’re still working towards your highest-priority tasks. Things can change in an instant, so you need to constantly reflect and refine if necessary.
Remain flexible: Don’t get overly attached to a particular timeline or goal. Projects can get dropped out of nowhere, and you need to make sure you’re ready to re-focus your attention and energy at a moment’s notice.
Seek feedback: Ask your team for regular feedback on how they feel the project is going, and whether time could be better spent elsewhere. Sometimes small details can fall through the cracks, so it’s important to solicit feedback whenever possible.
Use Screen Monitoring Software
If you want to be sure how long it will take you to complete specific tasks, start using a screen monitoring software like Insightful.
With screen monitoring software, you can see the time you spent working on your computer, but you can also set the priority and the deadline for your tasks, allowing you to prioritize your work even faster.
A remote workers time tracking tool like Insightful allows you to ascertain what your peak productivity hours are during the day, so you can build your work day around them. The same applies to your team members. If you’re worried that you aren’t making meaningful progress on the right tasks and projects, you can identify how to better leverage your most productive time.
You can also use Insightful’s ‘remote vs office’ feature if you have a split workforce. This will allow you to track performance levels both in the office and among wfh employees, so you can see how productivity levels differ and if there are any ways you can support better performance.
Effective Workload Management
If you manage to prioritize your work successfully, it can help you be more productive and confident when the deadline approaches, and you will be able to do much more in less time.
If you are not able to finish everything on time or if your priorities change, know it is perfectly normal. Just make sure you eventually get back to it.