Make Work Easy: How to Prioritize Work and Meet Deadlines
It is important to organize recently assigned responsibilities. When you find that you have a never-ending to-do list, it is crucial to start prioritizing tasks. It allows people to be more organized, and it can increase focus and productivity levels. When these levels increase, many individuals discover that they feel calmer and more tranquil. Prioritizing is not just a superb idea; it can be imperative to the success of any career!
We have all experienced working with teammates and clients that fly over to our desk demanding that a new project be completed yesterday! We have also had teammates tentatively ask for a project next week, while being fully aware that their own deadline is Friday. Another person’s level of urgency is not always consistent with the importance of the task. When prioritizing, it is necessary to determine the difference between the two. Here are a few questions to reflect on when deciding how to prioritize a new task:
When is the task due?
All responsibilities have some form of time constraint. The closer the cutoff date, the more important the job. A project due this week always takes priority over a project expected next month. A task with a deadline of today takes priority over the task due tomorrow.
Step one of prioritizing is ensuring that outstanding obligations and tasks due today are completed by the end of day. Your duty is to focus on the items that require immediate attention. Step two is organizing the rest of the items based on their perspective deadlines. Establish the cutoff dates for your other responsibilities, and then you can plan them accordingly.
Have a fast-approaching due date? Check out Monster’s article with tips to help meet that next deadline.
Who assigned the responsibility or provided the deadline?
Someone assigned you with a task, and their title may signify the importance of their request. A project appointed to you by your supervisor’s supervisor is more pressing than the assistance your acquaintance asked for. Alternatively, assisting a major client may be more vital than helping a smaller client
One situation many employees find themselves in is a self-assigned project. If you said the assignment would be completed by a certain time, then you provided a commitment as well as a deadline. You should keep your promise. Consider this a lesson to under promise and over deliver in the future.
Who is the intended audience or end user?
Often, the person requesting the task is not the end user. Your supervisor may have assigned you with a responsibility, but the work that you produce may be going on to a different department or even a third-party outside of the organization. Identifying who the end user is can help you prioritize your current projects
Is this a report for an investor, an answer to a customer’s serious question, or information for a vendor? Prioritize based on how important that person is to your business. Happy customers can mean repeat business, a glowing review, and invaluable word-of-mouth promotion. The customer is priority. The report for the investor is also important, but they will likely understand if you focus on the customer first. Make sure to complete their report next. The vendor is the least concern in this scenario. You should still provide them information necessary in a timely manner, but out of all three end users, they are the least crucial.
When will they use it?
The due date is important, but so is the timeline of the actual use. Imagine this scenario: sales and marketing have an important presentation next week to unveil a new product. The sales team asked you to send them the completed technical blueprints at a soft deadline of 2:00 pm today. Alternatively, you also need to drive out and visit manufacturing today. You need to ensure that the updated product specifications are being met before they run the next product batch this evening. Driving out to manufacturing is a more pressing responsibility; avoiding it could mean wasted resources, time, and money! The sales team may need that piece, but if they receive the blueprints right at 8:00 AM tomorrow morning, they will likely still have time to incorporate it into their presentation before next week.
What is it to the scope of the company?
You can determine the value of a task to the company based on how much it will mean financially. You must determine a monetary value of the task at hand. Missing an opportunity that costs the company thousands of dollars is more impactful than missing an opportunity that costs the company only a few dollars. The same can be said about an opportunity that increases revenue on similar levels. It is important to determine how important one project is to the future of the organization.
It is always important to assist customers. It is also important to ensure that the work your supervisor asks you to complete is done on time. However, if you are working to resolve a simple issue with the company’s biggest client, it probably takes precedence over the technical design your supervisor asked to have on his desk 15 minutes ago.
What is it to the scope of your job?
Also important is your own job. If this client has worked with you and your company on many projects before and is confident in your ability to resolve the issue, your call with them can probably wait until the afternoon. This is especially true if you are already on thin ice with your own supervisor due to the last 8 reports all being late. This report should probably be submitted on time.
Calculating the financial cost or revenue gained that is derived from just one project is important to company. It is also vital to ensure you keep your own job in the process. You want your immediate team and supervisor to be content with your performance. When you don’t provide an equitable amount of work to any group, the team can become unbalanced; and after all, a balanced group is crucial to any team.
Looking for more information on how to prioritize your tasks? Liquid Planner has a great article about prioritizing work when everything feels like a #1 priority.
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