Managing Priorities by Cindy Stradling CSP, CPC
Today’s business environment is likely the most stressful in decades. The poor economy of the last few years has led to companies needing to do less with more. This is especially true when it comes to manpower. Those employees left after cuts and layoffs often are doing the work of two or three people. With so many things going on, it can be difficult to keep all the balls in the air. Today’s employee must be a master at managing priorities. Though it may seem like the amount of work is overwhelming, it is important to prioritize it to keep the workload under control. Here are some tips to manage the many tasks at hand.
- Determine which items can wait. When you’re overwhelmed, it seems like everything is a priority. However, some items are definitely more important than others. The tasks that contribute to the bottom line generally should be handled with more urgency than other items. If necessary, enlist the help of your boss, or a colleague who effectively manages his or her tasks to help you sort out which items are “must do’s”, and which items are not. This will help you focus your day on the most important goals.
- Block out time on your calendar. Schedule your day out for different types of activities. Give your most important tasks the most hours during the day, but block out some time to take care of those less important items, too. By blocking out just one hour per day to focus on administrative items that are less deadline driven than your more important tasks, you will find that you do get those less important items accomplished eventually.
- Be proactive rather than reactive. When you spend your day putting out fires, you may leave feeling as though you’ve accomplished nothing. Being proactive in what you work on, rather than jumping from task to task as people call on you, will help you to accomplish more.
- Don’t take calls all day. As you’re blocking out your day on your calendar, it may be wise to set aside some time to stay off the phone, if incoming calls distract you from finishing what you start. Even one hour of not taking calls or responding to email may help you make a significant dent in the pile of work that overwhelms you.
All of these tips can not only help you manage your priorities more effectively, but help you relax and be less stressed at work, as well. By working with intention rather than reacting to many different tasks and people vying for your attention, you’ll accomplish more in a day than you ever thought possible.