Based on Jonas’s comment that suggested I should elaborate on the topic of priorities. I know I have touched on the topic briefly in some of my articles on priorities but never really wrote a guide on prioritizing your work.

First of all, we need to understand and acknowledged the need of prioritizing in the workplace. I used to just want to do everything and anything at the same time, spreading my attention across 5 or 6 tasks. Soon I realized that I was making more careless mistakes and losing track of time unaccounted for. Following on a wise advice given by one of my mentors, I have been working on prioritizing my tasks, based on a few factors.

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Depending on the level of urgency, I would allocate my focus accordingly. I categorize them into Emergency, Urgent, Normal and Want-To-Do basis. For emergency as the name implies the task will get immediate attention, dropping everything I’m doing right now to focus on it. I use it extremely sparingly and if I can, I rather delegate or redirect the task I have on hand rather than to drop it completely for me to attend to the emergency. For Urgent cases, it will be attended to within an hour. For Normal tasks, I’ll usually ask when the task is expected to be done and I will do accordingly to the given deadline. And for Want-To-Do tasks, are work that I enjoyed doing or will allow me to gain prolific exposure at work, these are usually completed when I have cleared the other 3 categories.

Questions to Ask Yourself:
1. How urgent is urgent? Must it be attended to it now, Now, NOW?
2. What happens if you delay the task?
3. Can the task be delegated to someone else?
4. Can the task be delayed until end of today / end of the week?


Rank and File
Next, to determine the priority of work is the task assigner. The higher the rank, the more priority is given, however, can never supersede the urgency category. You might think it may seem bias to place bosses’ tasks above the coworkers, you can ask yourself honestly who do you prefer breathing down your neck, chasing for work to be done, your boss or your coworker.

Questions to Ask Yourself:
1. Do you have any task on hand that takes on priority more than your boss’s request?


Ease to Be Done

This is my favorite. Usually, I would use this category to sort out my normal tasks after I cleared the urgent ones. It is so fulfilling and instant satisfaction derives from seeing my to-do list getting shorter and shorter.

Questions to Ask Yourself:
1. Which are the easiest ones to complete?
2. Which are the ones that perk your interest the most?
3. Which are the tasks that take up the shortest amount of your time?

Important Things to take note of:

1. You should never procrastinate a task regardless of nature. The more you put off something, the more you’ll hate doing it. And displeasure shows in your work.

2. It’s not a must that you need a to-do list. Some people find having a list useful but I find it a constant stress having a checklist staring back at me whenever I return to my desk. I usually kept the list of tasks I need to do at the back of my head. Works for me somehow and I never had missed out any task that needs to be done.

3. You can have different style of approaching your work and respect it. You don’t have to follow what others are doing as long as your current style are working for you.

4. I know people who tried too hard to follow others’ style and struggle to keep up. Work on your own pace, increases your speed day by day. You don’t need to compete with others, just compete within yourself.

5. Always aim for a strike in balance, a win-win situation.

Do you have a better way to increase productivity? Welcome to add in your comments below.

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23 replies on “Get Your Priorities Right

  1. When I know I have a task coming up, I block out time ahead of time on my online calendar. Otherwise my days can quickly fill up with meetings (other people’s priorities), and I will never have any opportunity to get my own actual work done. For some long-range projects, I block time once a month to check if I/we’re making progress as expected and adjust as needed.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The ease at which you bring to bare the basics on how to absorb the pressure from work environment and owners of those work environment is just amazing.
    But I guess there would always be a few of us that are hell bent on building their own work space.. I guess there should be words for those ones from the ever progressing “MiddleMe”

    Charles 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Everyone have their own style, as long as it works for the person then I don’t see why not? However, if it doesn’t work, then one should try different methods to find out which is the more productive and suitable style for him or her. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for the great post Kally. I’m enjoying your blog. One of the things I try to do is eliminate the emergency and urgent categories from my life and work. Is it really an emergency (for me)? Why is this urgent? My favorite time management quotation comes from Annie Dillard: “A schedule defends from chaos and whim.” Chaos is the external world attempting to derail me from my priorities. Whim is my own weaknesses surrendering to less important activities.

    Liked by 1 person

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