There’s no question like “Why do you need to prioritize?” in the life of an entrepreneur because a usual entrepreneur witnesses a clutter of unfinished tasks, new tasks, tasks that need attention, tasks that have crossed the deadlines, meetings, phone calls, presentations, and other tasks which are becoming more complex and demanding day by day.
If you’re one such entrepreneur, the magnitude and complexity of such tasks could be overwhelming and could lead to stress and a dip in your productivity.
No matter how good you are at multitasking (which is actually bad for your health), prioritization always helps. It not only gets the work done easily but also helps you to increase the pace of completing your tasks.
Why Is Prioritizing Important?
One of the biggest factors which separate highly productive people from not-so-productive people is that the highly productive people consider their time to be a valuable asset and know that priority management leads to time management. They don’t prioritize their schedule, they schedule their priorities to increase the productivity in the least time possible.
According to the Pareto Principle, 20% of the efforts are responsible for the 80% of the output. Prioritization helps you to direct that 20% effectively and efficiently.
But how to prioritize when everything seems to be the #1 priority?
Well, here’s a prioritization process to help you in such a situation.
The Priority Management Process
Am I Prioritizing correctly?
If this question makes you re-prioritize your work, you aren’t following the right technique. But what exactly is the right technique?
Manage priorities, not time.
Follow this priority management process for better results.
Make one to-do list and write every task that you need to accomplish for the day or for the week. Include every task no matter how easy or hard it is for you.
Learning the art of organizing is important before learning the art of prioritizing.
The next step is to divide the tasks according to their level of importance and urgency. This grid will help you.
Vital & Urgent: Out of the 100 “I need to do this now” tasks, 98 are crucial to your business’s growth, but 2 might have significant consequences if these tasks are not completed in the specified time. These tasks should be labelled vital and urgent.
Vital & Not Urgent: These tasks are of critical importance and can have significant consequences, but these tasks aren’t that urgent and can be performed after other important tasks.
Important & Urgent: These tasks are also very important but do not harm you or your business as significantly as vital tasks if missed.
Important & Not Urgent: These tasks do not carry a significant harm and are also not urgent. Nevertheless, they do require your attention.
Optional: These are the ‘add-on tasks’ which, if performed, will provide some benefit, but they don’t have any consequence if not performed. Optional tasks can also include ‘Important & Not Urgent At All’ tasks.
Your next job is to rank the tasks that are needed to be performed according to the grid above. The flow goes in this way:
- Vital & Urgent
- Important & Urgent
- Vital & Not Urgent
- Important & Not Urgent
You also need to rank the tasks in one head according to their level of difficulty. This will further help you prioritize your work. For example, if there are two tasks under the vital & urgent head, rank the more difficult task above the easier one.
Because we naturally avoid things we don’t want to do and this tendency to procrastinate the difficult task affects the other tasks following it. Hence, it is better to perform the difficult task before the easier tasks.
The next task is to perform the tasks according to the ranks assigned by you.
Following this prioritization process will surely help you to prioritize work when everything seems to be important. But we’ll also suggest you follow the following steps to increase your productivity.
Learn To Delegate & Outsource
Prioritization isn’t all about determining the order in which the tasks are to be done. It also involves determining which tasks should be done by you, which tasks should be done by your juniors, and which tasks can be outsourced.
Time is expensive and you should learn to weigh the cost of your time and cost asked by a third party and outsource the work which can be outsourced.
A simple search on Google will tell you why is multitasking bad for your brain.
Multitasking is also one of the biggest barriers to healthy prioritization. Avoid multitasking and start time blocking as it’ll help you devote your 100% attention to one task, which will eventually lead to more efficient results.
Reduce Or Remove Interruptions & Distractions
Social media, emails, phone calls, cigarette breaks, etc. interrupt your concentration and the ability to complete the task efficiently.
According to the book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain, experience, compensation, and time spent working on a project is less relevant to quality performance than privacy and freedom from interruptions.
Keep a check on interruptions and most of your problems related to prioritization will vanish automatically.
Go On, Tell Us What You Think!
Do you find it hard to prioritize tasks? Come on! Tell us what you think of our article on how to prioritize in the comments section.
A startup consultant, dreamer, traveller, and philomath. Aashish has worked with over a 50 startups and successfully helped them ideate, raise money, and succeed. When not working, he can be found hiking, camping, and stargazing.