How to Prioritize Tasks Effectively


When you have a long To Do list, it can be quite overwhelming. In fact, you can feel so overwhelmed by a lengthy To Do list that the feeling of being overwhelmed can stop you in your tracks, preventing you from accomplishing anything at all. One way to stop feeling overwhelmed and get back to accomplishing the tasks on your To Do list is to prioritize tasks. This technique is effective for work-related tasks and for personal tasks as well. Read this article for specific tips about how to prioritize.

  • Write down an initial draft of a To Do list. If you are walking around with your To Do list in your head (rather than having it written down on paper) you will not be able to do a proper rewrite of your list with your tasks enumerated in terms of priority. Don't make the list too long, as that can also be overwhelming. You don't need to write each individual sub-task on this list, just the "broad strokes" of what you would like to accomplish. (After all, the whole point of this prioritizing exercise is not to wind you up, but to help you.) The first time you do this, you may want to limit yourself to writing down a certain number of tasks (perhaps five or six).

  • Once you have written down these five or six tasks that you would like to accomplish, you will have a clearer picture. Take a look at them and give yourself some time to analyze which tasks you feel you ought to accomplish first. In other words, which of the five or six tasks on your list is the very top priority, which is the second priority, and so on? Don't rush through this exercise. Sometimes it is not clear immediately what needs to be accomplished first, second, etc., and only after some thoughtful analysis will you be able to determine which tasks needs to be tackled sooner and which ones can wait. Once you have completed your analysis, you can rewrite the To Do list with the top priority task listed first, and so on and so forth.

  • If you are having trouble prioritizing tasks on your own either at work or at home, do not hesitate to ask for help. Perhaps your colleague or employer or spouse or partner or family member or good friend could be of some assistance. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. On the contrary, it is an indication that you are willing to collaborate and be a team player, and that you are open to constructive feedback and help from those who care about you and who want to help you prioritize and feel less overwhelmed than you currently feel.

Tips & Warnings

  • Prioritizing tasks is not always easy, so don't be too hard on yourself if you are struggling with it. However, once you have prioritized your tasks (in writing), you may find that it becomes a little easier to accomplish your goals.

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