Some of us make To Do lists, then tackle the items on them in the order they thought of them. While it's good have a list of the things we need to do, taking the time to prioritize tasks allows us to work much more efficiently.
One of the problems with prioritizing is that it's sometimes difficult to know whether or not something deserves priority status. Some things that are important to us may not be all that important in relation to other things. And sometimes client demands cause us to put priority on things that don't really need it.
Deciding which tasks are the most important is sometimes tricky, but it's an important decision to make. Here are some things to consider when prioritizing:
Could a large task be broken up into smaller ones? If you place priority on an entire project, you may not get anything else done until it's finished. Breaking it down into individual tasks allows you the freedom to prioritize each part. It might be important to get the first phase of the project completed today, but the rest may be able to wait.
Are your deadlines coming from a client or self-imposed? Reasonable deadlines coming from outside of your business should be adhered to if possible. It's also important to stick to your own deadlines. But if comes down to completing one or the other, meeting your clients' expectations is usually the way to go.
Is a client making unreasonable demands? Sometimes clients forget that they're not our only client. When dealing with a demanding customer, it's important to remind them that you have other work to do. To some people, every job is a rush job. If you run across a client like this, suggest that he start planning projects further in advance.
Could not completing the task in question cause legal problems? When it comes to filing taxes and other tasks that are required by law, not complying could be detrimental to your business. It's best to get such things done ahead of schedule instead of waiting until the last minute when something could come up that might cause you to miss the deadline.
Could the task in question be delegated or outsourced? If you're having trouble completing your To Do lists, maybe you need someone else to help. By utilizing employees or contractors, you can get more done in less time, and more items can receive priority treatment.
Prioritizing is not always black and white. There are often gray areas that it's hard to figure out just how important they are. But by putting tasks into perspective and considering what would happen if they were not completed right away, we can determine the order in which they would be best handled.