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Setting Task Priorities at Work (redirected from How Do You Set Priorities for Tasks in the Work Day)

Page history last edited by Cassandra Owen 6 years, 7 months ago

How do you set priorities for tasks in the work day?


Hardest Task First

When choosing what things needs to be done first, it may be advantageous to choose to do whatever the most time consuming, difficult task on your list is. When taking this sort of approach of “starting with your big rocks, it allows you to block time on your schedule to ensure you always have time to work on your most important items, ideally at the time when you’re in the best mental space” (Dean Burroughs). This can also stop procrastination and generally keep you on top of your work (Valerie Lowry).


Goal Setting based on Deadline – manage and plan long and short-term tasks

It is necessary to recognize what is a short term priority and what is a long term priority. Being aware of deadlines is crucial. Do tasks that are time sensitive first. You can also set “internal deadlines” for yourself to keep yourself on track (Julia Powell). Always make notes of due dates. Short term assignments should be completed first, but also be aware of what you need to accomplish for a long term project. Break down long term projects so you are not overwhelmed with everything all at once (Chris Lewis). You can see what needs to be done at work versus what can be done at home based on due date. High priority tasks need time to think about them, so setting them aside might help the thought process (Les Fossel). “With setting reasonable expectations you always want to ‘under promise and over deliver than over promise and under deliver’” (Earl Cheever). Ask good questions to make sure you know what to do when.


Make a List 

Making a list can be a helpful tool in the work place. Keeping a running to-do list that has due dates is a great way to stay organized (Julia Powell). Assuring that it is updated and reviewing it each day is key to staying on top of things. It is even beneficial to create a list of things the night before in order to be prepared for the next day (Fred Lewis). This way when you get to work you can know exactly what you need to do immediately. Many respondents liked the idea of keeping a to-do list to always reference, cross things off, add things on. You can use a notepad or the Notes app on the iPhone. When you complete something on your list, it is very rewarding and can eliminate stress.  


Organization – keep calendar, keep notes, check email

You can use that list in addition to your inbox in your email. Checking your email needs to be a routine practice. When things come up, people put them on their calendars. Task completion can be decided based on what your calendar looks like for the day.  


Communication – keep in contact with co-workers, clients, and supervisors

Communication is key when it comes to figuring out what needs to be done during your work day. Many times you are given a task that your supervisor has given you instructions on.  Based on when the project is due is how you should be able to figure out whether or not you should consider it a priority; or it could happen that your priorities are set by your boss (Earl Cheever). Some people decide what order to do tasks based on who is asking for them and their ranking in the company (Katrina Fowles). If someone above you in rank gives you a job, that needs to be done first (Earl Cheever). It is important to prioritize your work by asking good questions that will provide you with the time to get things done and fix anything that goes wrong. Keep everyone that you are working with in the loop, so that everyone is always on the same page and know what is being done when (Ana Caldwell). If time is limited, you need to stay in contact with your supervisor. Stay on top of direct requests from colleagues. 


This page was developed from interviews with:

Hanna Dreier, Ana Caldwell, Earl Cheever, Fred Lewis, Julia Powell, Dean Burroughs, Valerie Lowry, Katrina Fowles, Ernesto Mailer, Les Fossel


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