Learn Ways to Prioritize Your Work
When I arrive at work at 7 a.m. each day, I get a cup of coffee and turn on the computer at my desk. I look outside, say a daily prayer and off I go into work land. I check my prior day’s to-do list, review my daily planner and attempt to prioritize work. I know that I must accomplish specific items each day, scheduled around a variety of meetings. I must be prepared for short- and long-term activities, and understand what is most important. I start the week off by looking at what needs to be accomplished on monthly, weekly and daily terms. Priorities shift so keeping things in perspective is critical. Can you prioritize your work effectively?
Prioritize based upon the needs of others and immediacy of deadlines. If you implement prioritization strategies based upon an agenda, you can evaluate tasks, allocate time and work on the most pressing items, and will be on your way to greater effectiveness. Strategies for prioritizing tasks at work include having a comprehensive list, identifying what is important, highlighting what is urgent, prioritizing based upon importance, avoiding competing priorities, considering personal effort, and regaining control and focus. To help with priorities, create clear deadlines and note urgent tasks. Make sure you accomplish three significant tasks each day. The key is to prioritize well and promote continuous progress.
When you have multiple work functions, you need a system to manage them. You can also prioritize based upon work importance. Decide what tasks are the most significant, place these tasks on a calendar, and set daily times to complete specific work tasks. Make sure you prioritize one task at a time. Continually evaluate your prioritization process and seek continuous improvement. When possible, and especially if you personally have work overflow, delegate tasks to employees based upon their ability to complete these tasks successfully. Having prioritization skills over time will help you achieve greater work in less time.
Making daily decisions about job priorities is not easy, but you need to identify your monthly work goals and break them down on a daily focus. Know what tasks you can drop and just identify major goals to accomplish. Measure your goal progress and get an accountability partner. Eliminate daily distractions from your work life. Seek to constantly prioritize work more effectively and critically review if your priority focus is really working.
It also helps to ensure scarce team resources are better utilized. To achieve success in work prioritization, you must capture a primary task list. Here are a few methods that achieve this.
1. Four Ds of Time Management
Move each task in one of four categories:
- Do the task now.
- Defer the task until later.
- Delegate the task to someone else.
- Delete the task from your list.
2. Eisenhower Power Matrix
Similar to the previous method, this one depends upon four task quadrants, with rows labeled as “important” or “not important,” and columns labeled as “urgent” and “not urgent.”
- Do. urgent and important
- Plan. not urgent but important
- Delegate. Urgent but not important
- Eliminate. Not urgent and not important.
3. MoSCoW Method
Again, order tasks using relative priorities and focus on what is most important.
- Must have
- Should have
- Could have
- Won’t have
4. The Pareto Principle
Do the most unwanted task first and note that 80% of your day’s success depends on 20% of the tasks, so select the task that would make you feel most accomplished.
After creating a task list and choosing a prioritization method to organize your tasks, schedule your tasks in a calendar and communicate your progress to your teammates. When creating a task list, determine the time it will take to complete the task as well. Adopt a task prioritization method such as managing the most complex tasks in the morning.
Use the calendar to balance your workload. Communicate task progress with your work mates, especially if tasks involve mutual partners. If you clearly prioritize your work, you will better manage your time and continually make deadlines.
Work tasks are a daily occurrence for you. You need to review each task and assign importance. Knowing that you only have so many hours in a work day, establish a to-do list and tackle each task based upon importance. Your intention must be to work smart and achieve task success. Delegate tasks if possible. Understand the complexity of each workday in the week. Know your schedule and expectations. Build in work time during the day for the unexpected. Understand your boss and his/her workflow. Be initiative-taking and strive to exceed work expectations. It will take energy and focus, but I know as a nonprofit professional, you can succeed.
Duke Haddad, Ed.D., CFRE, is currently associate director of development, director of capital campaigns and director of corporate development for The Salvation Army Indiana Division in Indianapolis. He also serves as president of Duke Haddad and Associates LLC and is a freelance instructor for Nonprofit Web Advisor.
He has been a contributing author to NonProfit PRO since 2008.
He received his doctorate degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis on education administration plus a dissertation on donor characteristics. He received a master’s degree from Marshall University with an emphasis on public administration plus a thesis on annual fund analysis. He secured a bachelor’s degree (cum laude) with an emphasis on marketing/management. He has done post graduate work at the University of Louisville.
Duke has received the Fundraising Executive of the Year Award, from the Association of Fundraising Professionals Indiana Chapter. He also was given the Outstanding West Virginian Award, Kentucky Colonel Award and Sagamore of the Wabash Award from the governors of West Virginia, Kentucky and Indiana, respectively, for his many career contributions in the field of philanthropy. He has maintained a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) designation for three decades.