When There Aren't Enough Hours in the Day, Learning How to Prioritise Your Workload Can Really Help
Work can sometimes seem like an endless string of tasks that are never-ending. It’s pretty easy to become demoralised when more and more tasks are added to your to-do list before you've even cleared it. However, prioritising workloads can make your work life more efficient and more rewarding.
Prioritising workloads is one of the oldest workplace struggles. We all have some form of time management necessity and managers know this. Which is why we all get some form of training or employee handbook when we first start a new job, but how many of us really take on board these tips? If you’re encountering non-stop emails, high expectations, and endless tasks, then you may start to feel overwhelmed. This is not an ideal way of working and can increase stress, reduce productivity, and damage your work-life balance.
Our guide will help you learn how to prioritise work and why it’s important to do so. Prioritising workloads will help you to stop wasting time and procrastinating at work. Not all of us are able to leave work at the door, so we want to help you become more successful and relaxed at work and to restore your work-life balance. Then you can finally enjoy your evenings and weekends without having to worry about that gigantic list of tasks waiting for you at work.
Why Is it Important to Prioritise Tasks?
Maybe you’re happy to work through a list without considering task importance. Maybe you have a large project where every task appears to be the number one priority. Or maybe you have so much work on your plate that the thought of another to-do list is unbearable. We know the idea of writing down or arranging every little task in front of your eyes can seem daunting, and you may think the end result will make you want to cry rather than inspire you, but it's important to know where appointments, tasks and projects all sit in the scheme of things.
So why is it important to prioritise tasks? Prioritising work is the process of determining the urgency of a task and its level of importance. Having the ability to prioritise will help you to work more efficiently, limit your distractions and demonstrate your skills as a leader. We waste an enormous amount of energy on being ‘busy’ and not actually working. Feeling overwhelmed and put upon, will only limit your mental capabilities and make focused work impossible. Tackling your to-do list with an organised and level-headed approach will allow you to have a clearer mind and enhance your creativity as you begin to work through time-sensitive tasks. Furthermore, you will have a feeling of accomplishment as you start to tick off items on your task prioritisation list. That sense of success will help you rebuild and maintain your work-life balance.
Without prioritising workloads, you may risk burnout or become unmotivated in your work. This could spell disaster, not just for you, but for your clients who rely on you, and for your colleagues that may have to step in to help reduce your workload. Don’t worry though, our simple guide will ensure you have the correct tools to help you learn how to prioritise work and feel confident in your capability of getting things done in a timely fashion, once more.
How to Go About Prioritising Your Tasks
There are numerous ways to prioritise tasks, some take a great deal of planning and organisation, and some can be completed in five minutes. The key is trying new methods of crafting your work plan and finding out which way works best for you. However you prefer to work, we have three strategies you can try today to efficiently prioritise your workload.
1. Make a List
It seems obvious, but do you actually know what you need to get completed by today? Tomorrow? This week? When we’re at work, it’s easy just to focus on the day ahead. However, if you sat down and compiled a list of everything that needs to be completed by certain parameters, then you can start evaluating which tasks are urgent and which could be left until later. At the beginning of each day or week, create a to-do list that reflects what you or your team intend to complete and set realistic expectations.
If you prefer a digital to-do, then Virtual Cabinet’s work management software, VC Cloud, has a to-do feature that allows you to keep track of tasks. You can set up reminders and alerts that will nudge people, mark tasks that are a priority and pause others until they’re ready to be acted on.
2. Eisenhower Method
If writing everything down would be too overwhelming, then scale it back. Prioritising workloads can be enjoyable once you have found the right method for you. The Eisenhower method helps you make the best of your time by optimising it. Draw four boxes with each of these headings:
- Critical and urgent
- Critical, but not urgent
- Not critical, but urgent
- Neither critical nor urgent
Then decide which tasks go in each of these boxes. This is a great method for large projects that expand over a longer period of time. Prioritising tasks using this method will ensure that you are accountable for each of your assignments and will ensure that no deadlines are missed or forgotten about. The key benefit is this method is that you can divide tasks by how urgent they are in terms of deadline, by how important they are compared to other tasks. Some people find this approach needlessly complicated, while others find it useful. Everyone is different, after all.
3. Pareto Principle
Prioritising workloads using the Pareto Principle is based on effort and impact, rather than time sensitivities. Also known as the 80/20 rule, it states that “80% of the results come from 20% of the action”. Therefore, you need to decide where to focus your efforts and choose the 20% of tasks that will give you the highest return on the investment of your time. Then you will dedicate 80% of your effort throughout the day to complete these. Of course, you can alter the percentages as you see fit, but the Pareto Principle makes you understand where you need to focus your efforts, rather than spreading yourself too thinly trying to complete everything and risking burnout.
Improve Your Ability to Prioritise Workloads
We have listed three possible ways of prioritising workloads, however, it may take time to find your perfect way of prioritising tasks. When completing work, there are many things that will factor into how productive you are: how you learn, how many distractions there are, how you feel about yourself and the pressures at work. Experiment with different approaches to being more productive.
To improve your ability to prioritise workloads you need to be creative, adaptable and flexible. Remember to take regular breaks from work as this will help to keep you fresher for longer. Cut unnecessary tasks from your list and don't be afraid to delegate to someone who may have more time. If you’re endlessly sending emails or reading group chats to organise tasks, or constantly re-writing your to-do lists, then why not take a look at our task management software to help you improve communication and efficiency.
That’s the end of our guide to prioritising workloads. We hope it has been helpful and if you’d like to simplify your work all in one place then browse our range of software that will transform your business and make your workplace a happier, more productive place.
Book a free demo and see for yourself.