How To Prioritize Tasks Effectively: 15 Practical Methods

Want to know how to prioritize tasks effectively? Then you’re in the right place.

Sometimes it can feel like the whole world is crashing down around you. Work and school start to pile up, as do homework and chores, and commitments to friends and family-some days there just aren’t enough hours.

Learning to prioritize properly can help you operate more efficiently, saving you time, energy, and stress. Learn to divide your tasks into different categories and degrees of complexity, then attack them with confidence.

How To Prioritize Tasks Effectively:

1.Set a time limit for your to-do list.

Do you have a particularly busy week ahead? Have you had a hectic day?

You might be going crazy thinking about all the things you need to do before the end of the year. Choose a time frame for the priority list you want to create, regardless of the nature of your responsibilities, to help you begin to manage those priorities and turn stress into action.

Short-term goals will often include items from different areas. You may have many things to accomplish at work before the end of the day, as well as shopping runs before coming home and various things to do around the house. You can make a list of stressors, including everything that needs to be done in the next few hours.

Long-term goals can include more ambitious goals that need to be broken down into multiple steps and prioritized. You can put “applying to university” on a long-term to-do list that will include many smaller tasks. On the other hand, breaking tasks into parts simplifies and demystifies the process.

2. Make a list of everything you have to do.

Start by breaking down everything and jotting down what you need to accomplish in whatever sequence comes to mind. Make a list of all the chores that need to be done, no matter how big or small, in the time range that has you stressed, and stick to it. Make a list of tasks that need to be completed, choices that need to be made, and purchases that need to be made.

3. Sort the tasks you need to do into categories.

It can be beneficial to categorize things, that is, create separate to-do lists for different aspects of your life. One category might be household tasks, while another might be work or school projects.

If you have an active social life, you may have a lot going on over the weekend that you need to plan for and prioritize. Make separate lists for each of these.

Alternatively, if having everything in one place helps you, you can try making an overarching to-do list that includes household chores and responsibilities, work commitments, and social commitments. If you feel overwhelmed, putting everything together with everything else can help you see the value of specific activities over others.

4. Order the items on the list.

Determine which activities on the list are most important or urgent, then recreate the list with them at the top. It’s all up to you and the items on your list, so you may decide to prioritize school activities over work initiatives, or vice versa.

If everything is equally important and required, keep the list unorganized and go through it alphabetically or randomly. All that matters is that you get things done as long as you are actively ticking items off the list.

Having a list with items checked off in front of you can help relieve some of the tension of getting things done.

5. Ensure that the list is visible.

Keep the list in a visible place, especially for long-term lists, so you can use it as a reminder of what you need to do, actively marking or ticking things off as you complete them.

Hang your analog list on a piece of paper in a place where you will see it often, such as on the refrigerator door, the bulletin board at the entrance, or on your office wall.

You can also leave the list open on your desktop while you work on other things, so that it stays fresh in your mind and so that you can delete items as you complete them.

Post-it notes work well as reminders around the house. If you stick a Post-it note on your TV screen saying you need to work on your paper, you’ll remember to do it instead of spending time doing something less useful.

SEE ALSO: How To Be an Inspirational Person: 14 Surprisingly Powerful Ways

6. Rank the importance of each activity.

What are the most critical items on your to-do list? In general, you may determine that work or school-related responsibilities will take precedence over social and household responsibilities, but there may be exceptions.

You must eat and bathe. For example, washing up may be postponed until after you have completed an important work task.

Decide on a few different levels to rank the different activities and criteria on your list, maybe three. The simplest and easiest approach to begin evaluating the priority of items on your list is to use high, medium, and low-importance activities. Use caution when making decisions.

Colors can also be used to prioritize things on the list. For example, you can use red to mark things on the list that are important or high priority, orange to mark things of medium importance, and yellow to mark things that are not urgent at all.

7. Determine the priority of each activity.

Consider upcoming deadlines and your ability to meet them. What needs to be done as soon as possible? What needs to be accomplished at the end of the day? What are the things you can buy with a little extra time?

It’s important to consider how long it takes you to complete each task, and maybe even carve out time for individual responsibilities. If you want to exercise every day but have a lot of work to do, set a time limit of 30 minutes and find a way to do it.

8. Prioritize the amount of work needed to complete each activity.

It is important that you get something in the mail before the end of the day, but this is not a difficult task. Prioritize everything on your list in order of complexity so you can see where it fits in with your other responsibilities.

Instead of trying to rank them against each other, it may be more beneficial to use levels like “Difficult,” “Moderate,” and “Easy” to rank them. If it’s easier, don’t bother putting them in order until you’ve given each item its own rating.

9. Make a list of all your tasks and sort them.

To optimize your work in the time you have allocated to it, put the most critical and urgent things at the top of the list that will require the least effort.

10. Concentrate on one task at a time and see it through.

Working your way through the list by cherry-picking and finishing a little bit of everything is a challenge. After a few hours, your list will be exactly as it is now: incomplete.

Instead of working in small increments, focus on one task until it’s completed (1), then move on to the next item on your to-do list after a short break. Don’t move on to the next item on the list until you’ve completed the first and most important one.

While reviewing math notes and writing a history paper at the same time is not a good idea, you can study while you wait for the laundry to dry in the laundry room, saving time for key activities.

When you’re most enthusiastic, try to complete your most critical or difficult assignments.

SEE ALSO: How To Be Efficient In The Workplace: 14 Top Strategies

11. Identify what you want to delegate and what you don’t.

It may be tempting to go to the library and start reading up on wifi so you can identify the problem from scratch if the internet goes down, but not if you have to finish preparing dinner, grade twenty papers before the following morning, and do fifty other things. Isn’t it possible that calling your cable provider would be a better option?

It is okay to determine that something is not worth your time or that the cost of outsourcing a particular job exceeds the time you can spend on it. If you can either buy new expensive fence wire or salvage your own by patiently digging through the junkyard, sifting through rough rubble for hours in the blazing sun, but if the savings are only a few dollars, it may be more cost-effective to buy new wire.

12. Vary the things on your to-do list.

Separating the types of activities you undertake can help you focus on your work and get through your to-do list faster. To be the most productive worker you can be, turn your school assignment list into a homework list. Take short breaks and swap roles; you will have energy and be productive.

13. Start with the least attractive or difficult tasks.

Depending on your personality, it may be beneficial to your morale to do the task you least look forward to. It may not be the most difficult or important assignment, but some people may find it beneficial to complete it so that they can focus on less unpleasant responsibilities later.

Although your English essay may be more important than your math assignment, if you despise math, get it out of the way first so you can commit all your time to the essay and give it your full, undivided attention.

14. In certain circumstances, let meaning take precedence over haste.

You may only have 10 minutes to walk across town to the library to pick up the new DVD of the movie you ordered, making it the most urgent item on your to-do list, but that time may be better spent on the more important duty of getting started on your English essay.

Waiting to pick up the DVD until the next day, when you might have more time to do it, gives you extra time.

15. As you finish each item, cross it off the list. 

Congratulations! Take a happy moment to go through your list, crossing things off, deleting them from your file or cutting them out of paper with a rusty pocket knife and ceremoniously setting the scraps on fire.

Take a moment to congratulate yourself on each small victory (2). This is something you do!

In summary, to prioritize tasks effectively, follow these steps:

  1. Set a time limit for your to-do list: Choose a time frame for your priority list to manage tasks efficiently.
  2. Make a comprehensive list: Break down all tasks, regardless of size, and jot them down.
  3. Sort tasks into categories: Categorize tasks into different aspects of life, such as work, school, and social commitments.
  4. Order the items: Determine the importance or urgency of each task and reorder the list accordingly.
  5. Ensure the list is visible: Keep the list in a visible place for constant reminders and mark tasks as completed.
  6. Rank the importance of each activity: Assign priorities to tasks based on their significance, using levels like high, medium, and low.
  7. Consider deadlines and time needed: Assess upcoming deadlines and the time required for each task to determine their priority.
  8. Prioritize based on complexity: Rank tasks by complexity to understand how they fit into your overall responsibilities.
  9. Sort tasks for efficiency: Put critical and urgent tasks at the top of the list to optimize your work within the allocated time.
  10. Concentrate on one task at a time: Focus on completing one task before moving on to the next, avoiding small increments that leave tasks incomplete.
  11. Identify tasks to delegate: Recognize tasks that can be delegated to others, saving time and energy for more critical responsibilities.
  12. Vary your tasks: Switch between different types of activities to maintain focus and productivity.
  13. Start with least attractive tasks: Tackle less appealing or difficult tasks first to boost morale and focus on more enjoyable responsibilities later.
  14. Let meaning take precedence over haste: In some cases, prioritize meaningful tasks over urgent ones, especially when time constraints may compromise the quality of work.
  15. Cross off completed items: Celebrate small victories by crossing off completed tasks and acknowledging your progress.

Thank you for reading this article about how to prioritize tasks effectively and I really hope that you take action my advice.

I wish you good luck and I hope its contents have been a good help to you.

Przemkas Mosky
Przemkas Mosky started Perfect 24 Hours in 2017. He is a Personal Productivity Specialist, blogger and entrepreneur. He also works as a coach assisting people to increase their motivation, social skills or leadership abilities. Read more here