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What is a Priority and How do You Know it is?

Priority means to arrange or deal with in order of importance. However, the first rule of time management is not the priority level of a task, but whether or not it needs be done at all.

Once you’ve determined that certain tasks have to be done, prioritizing will help you to weigh the importance of each item and make a conscious, thoughtful decision about what to do and when. Your first step to prioritizing is to select the areas you need to take action on. Evaluate each area on your list as to its importance and urgency.

When looking at your own to do list (mental or written) look at each task listed, ask yourself:

Why do I need to do this?

  • ·      What is the impact to my work, my performance and to the people around me?
  • ·      How much attention, energy and time should I be allotting to this area?

How can I do it more effectively?

  • ·      Is there a more efficient way of doing this?
  • ·      Is there someone else that this can be delegated to?

When should I be doing this?

  • ·      How urgent is this?
  • ·      When and how do I fit it into my schedule?
  • ·      Is this a “Prime Time” task (needs to be scheduled for a certain time of day)?
  • ·      Is this a “Flex Time” task (can be scheduled for almost anytime)?

What happens if it is not completed?

  • ·      Today/tomorrow/by the end of the week?
  • ·      What can I eliminate in order to complete this?

Now, thinking back to your own ‘to do’ list, prioritize each task using the scale below as a guide.

        1          2          3          4          5          6          7          8          9          10

      Immediate Action                  Moderate Action                           Gradual Action

Once you have prioritized, you will know what tasks need to be done first. The next step is to organize how and when to do them. By mastering this skill, you’ll save yourself time, stress and energy because you’ll have a clear picture of what needs to be done, and when.