Keeping your tasks prioritised and well-organised can help you work more effectively and with more calm.
The scenario is probably a familiar one. It’s Monday, you’ve been away enjoying the weekend, and now you’re back in the office - coffee in hand and your hands trembling over the mouse. You know that as soon as you open your inbox, you will be face to face with an overwhelming list of to-dos. How on earth will you be able to tackle everything you need to do? Where do you even begin?
Some of the most stressful parts of the day are those you spend drowning in anticipation. There are a hundred-and-one things you will need to finish today, and even before you begin, you doubt you will ever achieve two. However, this is a deceiving scenario because not all your tasks are equally important or urgent.
Believe it or not, there is an easy way to approach these mornings and instantly reduce stress. You don’t need a meditation session or a 6-pack of energy drinks. All you need is a method for organising the tasks that can help you deal with the inescapable to-dos that progress your work. And, why not, maybe a blissful task management program to achieve better, faster.
The Stress of a Long To-Do List
When you’re faced with an extensive collection of tasks, chances are you will feel overwhelmed. Unable to concentrate on one thing because so many others need to follow.
The most important thing to remember is that not everything has the same priority, and you don’t need to address all items immediately. Paradoxically, the tasks that stress us most are not the most urgent items. They are actually the important tasks that cannot be completed today. They stress us the most precisely because they can’t be done yet, so we worry about forgetting them.
Having a process for addressing your to-dos can have an immediate and positive impact on your daily work; that’s why it’s essential to learn how to determine what things are important, which are urgent, and how you can deal with all of them more effectively.
What Does Prioritisation Mean, Exactly?
Let’s start with a short definition. Prioritising means giving things a hierarchy. This is done based on the tasks’ importance and how soon you need to complete them. When you prioritise, you usually set up the goals for the day and streamline your to-dos so you can (try to!) avoid stress and chaos.
Prioritising your activities can help you deal with them while feeling more focused and calm. As a result, the way you work can become more effective, and you can avoid costly mental breakdowns or burnout that would only harm your business.
Steps for Prioritising Your Tasks
There are a few steps you can take to start prioritising your work. It’s important to remember that when everything seems important, breaking things down into their essential components can help you get a better overview of things. Doing this will instantly relieve some of the stress linked to a bulky schedule and help you get the day started on the right foot.
1. Make a list of all your to-dos: The first step is to list all your tasks or everything you would possibly get done in one day. Don't worry about the order of the activities yet. If you are using task software, you can load all your to-dos into it. You don't need to be too specific; it's usually enough to work with just a title initially. This step will determine your framing and help you get a first impression of how you will allocate your time.
2. Get rid of the items that can’t or won’t be done today: Perhaps you are waiting for someone else to do something, or a task can’t be done until a future date has passed. Or maybe you need some information which isn’t available yet. There is no point worrying about things that can’t be done today. You need a system for parking these tasks but not forgetting them. One way to do this is by dropping reminders into your calendar, using a reminder app on your phone or, best of all, if you use task management software. This should allow those items to be snoozed but ensure they pop back on your to-do list at a later date that you set.
Similarly, items that could be done today but you know won’t can also be snoozed. There is no point in stressing yourself with the less important things that are not that urgent.
This now leaves you with a much shorter but still quite long list of things that might get done today.
3. Prioritise your tasks: Based on importance and urgency, it's now time to prioritise your to-dos. It’s essential here not to make things simply high, medium and low in priority. If you do that, you will get loads of high priority items and won’t know where to start. You need to put them in a specific order numbering them 1,2,3, etc. Don’t stress over the precise order. The most important thing is to have a hierarchy.
You should now have a list with the most important items at the top. Typically, I have around 60-80 items on my entire to-do list. Only 15 or so might be things I can or might do today and out of those, between 2 and 6 are the things that if I get them done, I will be satisfied my day has been successful. And it usually looks very achievable, often verging on easy.
4. Make this the centrepiece of your day: You start working on your number 1 task but you will undoubtedly keep getting drawn away by other activities. An email comes in and you decide to respond, then someone comes over to your desk for a chat and you end up helping them with something. Then, the phone rings and you answer it - and a text message comes in, so you reply. You forget where you are and start working on random things that pop in your head or just open your email and start replying. This is the reason we all have those days when the one job you definitely swore you’d get done that day, didn’t happen.
Key is to get in the habit of keeping coming back to your to-do list. So whatever you use to organise your day, have it open and visible.
Once you have made a list and given your tasks different priorities, you will feel things are much easier to knock off. For example, you can start with the most urgent tasks to relieve some of the stress or with simple and shorter ones that can become "easy wins". As soon as you start addressing your to-dos in this manner, you will likely feel much more relaxed and motivated to continue. Often, all it takes to become inspired is just one step.
Some simple tips for prioritising work with beSlick (formally 'Process Bliss').
The Advantages of Prioritising Work
Learning how to prioritise your work effectively can affect the success of your organisation and the engagement of your team, and even your role as a leader. One of the first hurdles when dealing with a large and complex project is that everything feels like priority #1, fighting for your attention. Prioritising things smartly is a vital part of any organisation and also an excellent way to align teams.
However, there are several advantages to keeping all tasks organised and well structured. Among them:
1. Increased Productivity and Efficiency
Prioritising your workload can lead to improving your efficiency and productivity. First of all, the activity can help you see which of your activities are more important, making sure you initially devote your time to them. This also enables you to focus and reduces distractions, leading to fewer feelings of being overwhelmed. By allocating your time and energy to the most critical work, you can increase efficiency and accomplish better results in less time.
2. Less Anxiety and Procrastination
Another core advantage of prioritising your work is that it leads to less stress and anxiety. Having too much to do and not enough time is definitely a reason to feel overwhelmed and overcommitted, but we also tend to over-estimate our to-dos. If you organise and prioritise tasks, you will soon see you are the one in control of your time. With this clarity, you will also be able to avoid procrastination more easily. It's much easier to waste time when you feel swamped and stressed.
3. More Time
When you organise your tasks and give them different priorities, you also gain time you can use to recharge and take a mental and physical break. Instead of working longer hours, prioritisation can help you work smarter on your biggest tasks. Breaking things down into smaller essential parts will also allow you to focus more on your bigger goals and grow your business with confidence.
Using beSlick to Organise your Tasks
As we have seen, there are many benefits of prioritising your workload. It can increase productivity while decreasing stress, boost your focus, and help you achieve better results in less time. It also helps if you have a tool that can help you deal with your work in a more efficient and motivating way.
beSlick is a platform to systemise everything you do. As a result, you can gain visibility on all your tasks, collaborate on what needs doing, execute workflows, and embed consistency across your entire business.
beSlick includes a personal task manager that makes prioritising your day activities simple. You can manage all your projects, actions, reminders, and to-dos from one single app.
Once you see everything neatly organised by importance and priority, that feeling of overwhelm and over-commitment will be a thing of the past. You can try the program for free for 14 days.