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Managing Your Time – How to Prioritize Your Tasks

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The ability to choose and complete tasks in the order of importance highly desirable and more challenging for some business types than others.

In order to choose tasks you must be aware of as many chores and projects as possible. In order to do this, every planning session must have a list.

You Must Have a List!

List all your tasks, then rate them, and list them again in order. Then you can schedule them.

When all tasks and projects are rated, use these additional filters to prioritize:

• Imagine the consequences of eliminating the task. – This exercise will often remove some unneeded tasks altogether.
• Decide if each task should be performed in prime time or secondary time.
• Determine who will be affected by the task.

Now Reduce Your List
Until we can effectively clone ourselves to be in more than one place at a time, most of us need to reduce our workload.
Before you start prioritizing, consider these task elimination criteria:

Does This Task or Project Make Sense?
Every task you do should first have to pass this benchmark. You have goals, priorities, and objectives. Does every task contribute to your big picture? Estimate how much time each task will take, and then imagine what you would do with the time if the task were cancelled. While not always possible, everything you do should contribute to your objectives.

Why is the Task Urgent?
While urgency should be a mindset of business, urgency should also be questioned – ruthlessly.

Is the urgency only appeasing someone else? What has caused the urgency? Many urgent situations have been caused by mistakes. Determining the cause of urgency can eliminate or postpone a task and lead to prevention measures of interruptions and mistakes.

Some seemingly imperative tasks are not urgent at all. Customers might be making demands that are unnecessary.
Check with all parties involved.

The Delegation Qualifier
Are you the only person that can handle the task? Sometimes you might be, but many times someone else can perform for you. Delegate everything possible to free up your schedule.

How Else Could the Task Be Done?
Could an in person appointment be a phone call? Conference calling can rule out travel and save an enormous amount of time.

Could you email instead of calling? Email can be done on your terms when you want. You will have time to articulate better compared to the live telephone conversation. Time can be wasted and sales lost by leaving phone messages for people. Email eliminates phone tag.

What is the Cost of Excluding a Task?
There are many jobs throughout the day that are actually not worth the time to do. Applying the dollar figure when considering cancelling a task is another measure of the task value.

Work on a deadline
One great trick for prioritizing is to give every task a deadline.

While many define a start time for projects and tasks when planning, they do not establish a deadline. Having a clear deadline makes tasks easier to prioritize.

With a little time planning, you will save yourself lots of time as you more quickly work through your list.  I think you’ll find it time well spent!

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Copyright Mark Hamade markhamade.com © 2009