In my previous blog I talked about managing your workload, and one of the keys pieces to being able to do so is to prioritize what the most important projects are. But how are you supposed to prioritize projects when everything is a top priority? While working at a software company, I quickly realized that no matter how well organized the preparation – you always encounter surprises along the way requiring changes, and re-prioritization of tasks.
You don’t want to be working on yesterday’s priorities today, but at the same time if you claim every new project is a “top priority” it will lose its effectiveness and people will not respond with a sense of urgency. You must find balance between the two.
Liquid Planner provides suggestions for handling your daily workload in How to Prioritize Work When Everything is #1. I found this article extremely helpful and wanted to share the collaborative tips in project prioritization.
Collect a List of All Tasks
Create a list of all tasks you could possibly complete that day.
Identify Urgent vs. Important
Tasks that require immediate attention are ones that will have serious negative consequences if not completed in the next few hours or by the end of the day. Such as missed client deadlines, missed publication dates, or missed release dates. Determine if any tasks have dependencies requiring you to finish work now.
Next you want to look at the important tasks that represent the highest value to your organization. Projects for clients should take precedence over internal projects. Support tickets should take priority over creating training manuals. Another way to assign value is to determine how many people are impacted by a potential project. Generally speaking, the more people affected, the higher the value.
Order Tasks by Estimated Effort
If several tasks are assessed the same value then you want to determine the estimated effort to complete each item. Productivity experts recommend starting with the project requiring the most effort. If you can’t focus on the larger projects with all of the smaller projects on your mind – go ahead and complete the projects requiring less effort. Being able to check items off your “to do” list can be satisfying and allow you to focus on the larger task without the smaller tasks weighing heavy on your mind.
Be Flexible and Adaptable
It is safe to say your priorities will change and often when you least expect it. The trick is to stay focused on the tasks you have committed to completing.
Know When to Cut
You are likely not going to complete everything on your list. After you’ve identified your priorities and the time estimates, cut the remaining tasks from your list.
All of these seem like logical suggestions for prioritizing tasks so why do so many people fall victims to missing deadlines? I don’t have any statistical evidence as to the causes of missed deadlines, but my guess is the likely culprit is people go into each day without a plan to handle the unexpected. My suggestion is to build time into your day that is used for new or unexpected urgent requests. If you are fortunate enough to have a day without surprises, you can use the additional times to complete the next priorities on your list.
If interested in learning how IDShield and FlexIndex can help you prioritize your document workflow by document type, historical versus day-forward documents, e-filing/e-recording before scanned documents, etc, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Watch for Part 3 – Data Entry Best Practices.
About the Author: Troy Burke
With 30 years of experience providing clients with stellar service and strategic solutions for growth and development, Troy is committed to ensuring his customers receive the highest quality solution, training and support with every implementation. He frequently speaks on the topic of redaction and is actively involved with National Association of Court Management, Property Records Industry Association and several other government organizations.