May
13

It’s Time to Prioritize

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Deadlines are a regular part of working. For some people, however, the approach of a deadline surprises them, and they are left scrambling at the last minute to get the necessary work done and creating the needed documentation. For these people, because they are unprepared, it seems like everything falls apart and there is no way to salvage it. Daily routines are interrupted or completely ignored in favor of trying to meet the deadline.

There are two ways to avoid deadline disasters: be well organized; know how to prioritize.

If you are well organized, you will be prepared even if a deadline is moved up. You will be able to compile the reports you have prepared and submit them without concern. Even if you have a project and not enough time to complete it, if you are organized you will be able to turn it in with a minimum of stress and a few extra hours worked.

But the better solution is to prioritize. Make a to-do list that includes both your normal work routine and the needs of the project. Group similar tasks and prioritize those things that are the most urgent. Arrange your list so that you take care of the most important tasks first. Any daily work that is not urgent should be treated as low priority so you can focus on the important tasks for the day and for the project.

Most people don’t work in isolation. This means that there could be nearly constant distractions while you are trying to work. You will be faced with the choice of dealing with distractions or trying to keep your attention on your work.

First, do what you can to eliminate or at least reduce the number of interruptions. Turn off your cell phone or simply send all calls directly to voice mail to be checked later. Check your email only at those times you have designated for it.

Second, let your clients or co-workers or even your family members know that you are busy with a project and should only be disturbed for high priority issues. Of course you should be as polite about it as you can.

The more you practice effective prioritization, the easier it will be for you to make those designations and stick with them instead of starting and stopping less important tasks.

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