How to prioritize

Choose from these nine prioritization techniques to identify your most important work.

How to prioritize

There's never enough time to do everything you want to do. It's a universal problem. And we all accept that fact and live with its reality until the worst-case scenario rears its ugly head: There's not enough time to do everything you have to do.

When everything on your to-do list feels like it's of crucial importance (or when someone you answer to feels that way), it's time to use one or more prioritization techniques to make your to-do list more manageable and conquerable.

What is a Prioritization Technique?

You have 300 tasks on your to-do list. Which one is the most important?

A prioritization technique helps you answer that question by providing you with a formal method for evaluating the necessity of completing each task on your list. The process of prioritizing lets you make informed decisions about what you need to do, what you don't need to do, and when you need to focus on certain tasks.

Prioritization techniques address two key issues:

Should you really go to that meeting/answer that email? If you let other people create your to-do list for you via meeting requests and incoming emails, you'll never get your important work done. It's easier to feel justified in declining a meeting invite or delaying an answer to an email when you know exactly what you need to be focused on and why.

Everything is critical! If you feel like you spend your day fighting fires because everything everyone asks you to do is "urgent," a prioritized list can help you regain control of your time and push back against unreasonable last-minute panic assignments.

When I worked in product development, our prioritized lists were our shields against delays and distractions. When stakeholders showed up with new, urgent requests, we simply showed them the prioritized list and asked, "What should we cut in order to accommodate this request?" After seeing the importance of the other things on the list, urgent requests often suddenly became much less urgent.

But it doesn't only work in product development. You can use it to manage priorities with your boss, coworkers, family, and even that part of your brain that's always on the lookout for new ideas for things to do/new ways to procrastinate that deter you from accomplishing important work.

Focus on Your Most Important Work with These 9 Prioritization Techniques

Finding the right prioritization technique is personal: The method you choose has to make sense and feel right. Luckily, there are plenty of prioritization techniques to consider in your quest to find a method that works for you.

How to prioritize

Knowing how to prioritize work affects the success of your project, the engagement of your team, and your role as a leader. All projects—especially large, complex projects—need clear priorities. Easier said than done. Especially when every task appears to be priority number #1 and screaming for your attention. You can count on technical projects, no matter how well-planned, to involve change orders, re-prioritization and the regular appearance of surprises. It’s just the natural order of things.

Prioritization is the process of determining the level of importance and urgency of a task, thing or event. It’s a key skill for any working professional and is absolutely essential for project managers to master. Smart prioritization is a vital part of LiquidPlanner’s Planning Intelligence philosophy to align people, priorities and projects.

One of the biggest challenges for project managers and team leaders is accurately prioritizing the work that matters on a daily basis. Even if you have the best project management software, you’re the one who enters information into the tool. And, you don’t want to fall into the role of crying “top priority” for every other project that comes down the pike.

Just as you have to be diligent and have the right kind of project insight to ensure that nobody’s working on yesterday’s priorities. It takes a lot of practice and time management to get this right.

To help you manage your team’s workload and hit deadlines on time, here are 6 steps to prioritizing projects that have a lot of moving parts.

1. Collect a list of all your tasks.

Pull together everything you could possibly consider getting done in a day. Don’t worry about the order or the number of items upfront. This will help you frame up how and when to allocate your time wisely.

Having trouble organizing your tasks in one central location? Check out LiquidPlanner’s project management software which uses smart prioritization as one of it’s 6 Planning Intelligence solutions. It helps teams come up with more realistic estimates for your tasks while answering the question, when?

2. Identify urgent vs. important.

The next step is to see if you have any tasks that need immediate attention. We’re talking about work that, if not completed by the end of the day or in the next several hours, will have serious negative consequences (missed client deadline; missed publication or release deadlines, etc.).

Allocate time to prioritizing your most urgent tasks earlier in the day. If you push these to a later period, you’re at risk of being too busy as the day runs on. Prioritizing based on urgency also alleviates some of the stress when approaching a tight deadline or high pressure workload demands.

Check to see if there are any high-priority dependencies that rely on you finishing up a piece of work now. Be sure to contact any member of your team that can help finish any dependencies earlier in the day.

3. Assess the value of your tasks.

Take a look at your important work and identify what carries the highest value to your business and organization. As a general practice, you want to recognize exactly which types of tasks are critical and have top priority over the others.

For example, focus on client projects before internal work; setting up the new CEO’s computer before re-configuring the database; answering support tickets before writing training materials, and so on. Another way to assess value is to look at how many people are impacted by your work. In general, the more people involved or impacted, the higher the stakes.

Below are some helpful references to assess the value and importance of your tasks.

  • Critical priorities are time sensitive and high value. These include tasks dealing with crises or strict client deadlines.
  • High value tasks that are not time sensitive should be considered high priorities . These are tasks that involve thinking, planning and collaboration.
  • Medium priorities can be time sensitive but not high in value. Meetings, email communications, and project organizing can fall into this category.
  • Low priority projectsand tasks are ones that are not time sensitive and do not have high value. You can push these priorities later in the week or drop them entirely.

4. Order tasks by estimated effort.

If you have tasks that seem to tie for priority standing, check their estimates, and start on whichever one you think will take the most effort to complete. Productivity experts suggest the tactic of starting the lengthier task first. But, if you feel like you can’t focus on your meatier projects before you finish up the shorter task, then go with your gut and do that. It can be motivating to check a small task off the list before diving into deeper waters.

Managing uncertainty is hard work. If you’re looking for more information on creating accurate project estimates, check out how LiquidPlanner utilizes Smart Estimation through our project management solution, Planning Intelligence.

5. Be flexible and adaptable.

Uncertainty and change are given. Know that your priorities will change, and often when you least expect them to. So plan for the unexpected. But—and here’s the trick—you also want to stay focused on the tasks you’re committed to completing. While working on such tasks, try to forecast other project requirements that will follow your priorities so you can better prepare for what lies ahead.

6. Know when to cut.

Be realistic. You probably can’t get to everything on your list. After you prioritize your tasks and look at your estimates, cut the remaining tasks from your list, and focus on the priorities that you know you must and can complete for the day. While cutting your prioritization list down, focus on the main things that will bring you feelings of accomplishment for the day. Then take a deep breath, dive in, and be ready for anything.

Get Smart Prioritization With LiquidPlanner

When everything feels like number one on your to-do list, it can be overwhelming. But remember, not everything on your list is, or should be, a priority. This is why it’s important to know how to identify your priorities and to differentiate between critical and low priorities.

With LiquidPlanner’s Planning Intelligence software, your organization’s project management priorities are factored into the schedule from the very beginning. Learn about our impact on your project portfolio when priorities shift by getting a free account today.

Prioritizing work is an important time management skill for small businesses and freelancers who often work on multiple projects at the same time for different clients. To effectively prioritize your projects, you need to identify how urgent and how important all your different work tasks are, and rank them accordingly. Important work should align with your long-term goals and mission, whereas urgent work simply needs to be done as soon as possible. By learning proper prioritization techniques, you’ll become more productive in your work life and more focused on your goals.

These topics show you how to prioritize work and improve your efficiency:

How to Prioritize Work

Prioritizing work involves making difficult decisions about the importance of your ongoing jobs. Follow these seven steps to learn how to prioritize work effectively:

Identify Your Goals

To prioritize your work properly, you first need to establish your goals so you have a big picture view of what you’re working toward every day. Set long-term goals that clearly demonstrate what you hope to accomplish in your career and personal life. You can also set short-term goals that you’d like to accomplish each month that help propel you toward your long-term goals. Once you have your goals written down, keep them close at hand so you can easily refer to them. Revisit and revise your long-term goals whenever you need to.

Create a List of Your Tasks

The next step in prioritizing work is identifying all the tasks you have ahead of you. Create a master list that includes all your current and future tasks. Once you’ve captured all your jobs on a master list, break them down into monthly, weekly and daily tasks. Start by creating a monthly list from the master list that identifies everything you hope to accomplish for the month. It can include personal priorities in addition to work obligations. From your monthly list, pull the tasks you can finish each week into a weekly list and from there create daily to-do lists.

Assess Importance and Urgency

Now that you have a grasp of all the tasks ahead of you, it’s time to identify how important and how urgent each task is. Urgent tasks are those that need to be completed quickly, for example, a report that a client needs by the end of the day. They might not be important, though; in fact many urgent tasks aren’t important. Important tasks are those that bring you closer to your long-term goals and mission. They’re typically more time consuming and may not have a clear deadline for completion. It’s a good idea to take care of the urgent tasks on your list as soon as you can. Then, you’ll be able to schedule longer periods of time in your calendar to focus on important work.

Measure Value

When you have a list of your urgent tasks and you need to decide which to give priority to, it can help to assess the value of each task. For example, if one of your urgent tasks is a project for your clients and the other is an internal report you need to create for your business, give priority to the client project.

Order Similar Tasks by Effort

If you still have tasks that seem to tie for priority, make an estimate of how much time each task will take to help you prioritize. You might feel more motivated and energized if you first tackle the tasks of equal priority that take the shortest amount of time to complete.

Be Open to Changes

It’s important to understand that your priorities aren’t static; they can change throughout the week or in the middle of the day. Maybe a client will reach out and ask for help on a new urgent job that needs to be completed by the end of the day and you don’t want to turn them down. Just be sure you can stay focused on the big picture and reorder your priorities when necessary to quickly get back on track.

Know What to Drop

You only have so much time in the day and you won’t always be able to get to everything at once. When you’ve set your top priorities and scheduled them in for the day, cut the remaining tasks and focus on them another day, when they become a higher priority. Then, focus on the day’s projects and get to work tackling your priorities.

How Do You Focus on Your Goals?

Focusing on your long-term goals is one of the keys to staying motivated and managing your time. Here are five tips to help you stay focused on your goals:

Identify Just a Few Goals

You might be tempted to create a long list of goals that you’re motivated to accomplish, but you’ll need to narrow your focus to be as effective as possible in your work. If your list of goals is long, follow the advice of Warren Buffett: circle your top five goals from your list and focus on those. The remaining goals on your list? Avoid them at all costs until you’ve accomplished your top five goals.

Break Down Your Goals

If you have a series of large goals you’re trying to accomplish, you can easily become overwhelmed and unsure of how to start working toward them. To make your goals seem more attainable, it can help to break them down into smaller steps with specific tasks. That way, you’ll know exactly what you need to do to work toward each goal.

Measure Your Progress

Each of the goals you set should be measurable, so you can track your progress toward attaining them. Record the actions you’re taking to achieve your goal on a regular basis and measure your progress. For example, if one of your goals is to earn $50,000 for the year, you can set milestones throughout the year and regularly measure your progress toward your ultimate revenue goal.

Get an Accountability Partner

We’re more productive when we have someone to answer to, and self-employed workers and freelancers don’t always have someone holding them accountable. Share your goals with a friend or colleague and ask them to help you stay accountable for them. Schedule regular check-ins where you update your partner on the work you’ve done toward your goal and any challenges you face. An added bonus is that your accountability partner can give you insights and ideas you might not think of yourself that can help you in your work.

Cut Out Distractions

Remove distractions from your workspace to help avoid procrastinating. Procrastination is a big time suck, so do what you can to prevent it. Lock your smartphone in a desk drawer during the workday so you aren’t tempted to use it. Use a browser extension to block social media sites and other websites that distract you. The more you’re able to manage distractions, the easier it is to focus on your goals.

How to prioritize

There never seem to be enough hours in a day to get everything important done. Work-life balance can seem more like a myth than an achievable goal. Don’t fall victim to this negative thought process because anything is possible with the right strategy. Here are our best practices to prioritize and manage an overwhelming workload.

How to Prioritize your Workflow

Checklists are the roadmap for your workflow

Creating a checklist helps your brain identify all the things you need to accomplish in one place so no task slips through the cracks! Create a flexible and manageable list by listing high priority to low priority items that can be accomplished on the day it is listed for (while also accounting for the occasional social media scroll or incidental work task). Start with a master checklist with everything you need to accomplish either weekly or monthly. Then, prioritize your workload by creating a daily to-do list from this list that will help channel your time effectively in accordance with deadlines. If tasks are left from the previous day, transition them to a higher priority for the next day. Follow the “do, defer, delegate, delete” method by doing tasks you must, deferring work that is not as high priority, delegating work to another qualified person, and deleting anything that is unproductive of your time.

Differentiate between important and urgent

Every task may seem important and urgent, but there is a key difference explained by the Eisenhower Matrix . This matrix differentiates something that is important, meaning it will have an impact on you achieving a goal, from something that is urgent, meaning it demands immediate action and usually impacts someone else achieving their goal. This simple thought process will become automatic as you recognize whether a task needs attention to make an impact or attention immediately. Knowing the difference complements your ability to do, defer, delegate, or delete so you can focus on tasks that actually need your attention.

Check off and add tasks as soon as they come

Making a list is only helpful if you stick to it, so refer back to the list you created at the start and end of every day. When checking tasks off of your list, the brain develops a “rewards” reaction like when your business makes a sale . You build momentum, also known as a workflow, with this motivation so getting it done is fun! It is important to be realistic when managing your time.

Stay on task

Finish a task before you move on to the next so that when you do move on you won’t have to go back and redo anything. When you set up your daily checklist, you estimate the time and effort required for that task, so try to stick to those parameters. If you hit a roadblock on a task, do not sit on it frustrated, but rather schedule a time to go back by shifting other tasks forward according to your agenda. Staying on task seems simple, but a variety of external factors affect how well you can focus so taking care of yourself outside of work is extremely important to your performance.

Channel the most difficult tasks during productive hours

Research suggests that you are only actually productive for about 3 hours of an 8-hour workday , so schedule accordingly. You probably already know your productive sweet spot, so never schedule meetings or lunch during those hours. When choosing daily tasks, this is important as you must schedule tasks that alternate between difficult and easy to complement your brain’s workload capacity. Saving tedious tasks for the less productive hours is also productive.

Break large tasks into subtasks

Going back to your brain’s happy dance at accomplishing goals, subtasks add to this trigger. Sometimes a task seems too daunting to want to tackle so you put it off, but microproductivity combats this work anxiety . Prioritize your workload so that you work on a project in increments, ensuring that it comes together efficiently while also avoiding neglect towards other work. Bit by bit, the larger task will seem simpler when parts of the whole appear so the task seems less overwhelming to tackle. You will be more willing to attack the task at hand rather than dreading it when you split up the work over a period of time.

Communicate to stakeholders and superiors about deadlines

The biggest frustration in the workplace is not meeting a deadline, so introspectively analyze whether a task can actually get done. It is alright to say no sometimes when your bandwidth is already stretched thin . It is equally important to update progress with your superiors that assigned a task to avoid a lack of consideration and ensure a larger project does not fail.

Start small and build up your endurance towards productivity as it will not change in one day. Remember, one productive day is not a reason to slack off on other days. Prioritize your workload by implementing any of these steps to help you develop the skills and thought processes to achieve better time management in the workplace.

How to prioritize

Your to-do list is an unstructured mess of action items, and you’ve only got a faint idea how to prioritize tasks.

Luckily, there are a few (almost automatic) ways to quickly get your to-do list prioritized without much effort. In fact, you can apply one of these methods within 5 minutes and know exactly what to do next. There have been a number of methods over the years, and all have their own quirks and considerations.

Which is right for you?

In previous chapters of my task management guide, I’ve taken you all the way through from writing, organizing and planning your to-do list. Go and check out those if you haven’t already.

Now, let’s look at at 4 different ways to prioritize your tasks.

Slot your tasks into 4 boxes — Urgent vs Important

Here’s a task prioritization method from former U.S President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

In 1954, he said:

“I have two kinds of problems: the urgent and the important. The urgent are not important, and the important are never urgent.” — Eisenhower

It was this quote that created the Eisenhower Matrix; a 4-box system for organizing your tasks by urgency and importance, then getting them done.

How to prioritize

The Eisenhower Matrix puts tasks into 2 categories, then prioritizes them for you. It’s a fast way to get everything in order at the start of the day.

Action: Get into the habit of quickly categorizing tasks by using this checklist on your to-do list:

The ‘Important’ Checklist:

It is overdue
It is due soon
It demands immediate attention
The consequences of not doing it are immediate

To apply the matrix to your to-do list, use tags to denote which quadrant of the matrix it falls into. From top right to left, you’ve got:

  1. Urgent AND important
  2. Important NOT urgent
  3. Urgent NOT important
  4. NOT urgent OR important

When I check this against my semi-fictional task list in TaskPaper, it’s easy to see what’s a priority and what isn’t:

How to prioritize

The Eisenhower Matrix saves the day.

When you have two frogs to eat, eat the ugliest one first

In slight contrast to the Eisenhower Matrix, Brian Tracy’s method of consuming amphibians focuses on your feelings towards the tasks on your list.

In the words of Mark Twain, if you eat a live frog each day for breakfast, nothing worse can happen for the rest of the day. And so, the idea is to eat the worst frog as early as possible then breeze through the day. Replacing frogs with tasks, how does this method work?

You categorize tasks into 4 boxes, of course.

1. Things you don’t want to do, and actually don’t need to do.
2. Things you don’t want to do, but actually need to do.
3. Things you want to do and actually need to do.
4. Things you want to do, but actually don’t need to do.

The logic is, that if you don’t want to do a task, it’s probably because it’s hard. You know it’s important but you’re procrastinating. Get the biggest, ugliest task out of the way as soon as you can, and the rest will come easily.

How to prioritize

You can use the same tagging method of 1, 2, 3, 4 like I demonstrated above, or you can apply this methodology to one of the 7 task management lists I’ve previously outlined.

Use the ABCDE method for precise prioritization

Another prioritization method here from Brian Tracy, this time a little more mathematical. I love how it takes into account that different tasks can take the same priority level. Instead of randomly doing equal-priority tasks as they come along, the ABCDE method has two levels of priority. Here’s the steps to take to prioritize your tasks with this method:

  1. Going through your list, give every task a letter from A to E, A being the highest priority
  2. For every task that has an A, give it a number which dictates the order you’ll do it in
  3. Repeat until all tasks have letters and numbers

How to prioritize

To make sure there’s point in categorizing them so strictly, you’re going to have to be hard on yourself.

You’re not allowed to start on a new letter until the previous letter is fully complete.

If you reference this against the other two methods I’ve outlined already, your A tasks would be your … urgent and important frogs.

The simplest method: pick your 1-3 most important tasks

True to form, the simplest way to prioritize your tasks comes from Zen Habits. In the book Zen to Done, Leo Babauta says:

“At the beginning of each day, review your list, and write down 1-3 MITs [most important tasks] that you’d like to accomplish for the day. That’s your whole planning system. You don’t need any more than that.” — Zen to Done

Using the other methods in this article, you should be well equipped to pick your 1-3 MITs quickly, and get on the path to hitting to-do list zero.

The beauty of this method, however, is that it relies on your intuition. After you’ve been on a few projects, or swamped by an overpowering to-do list enough times, you instinctively know which tasks are your most important.

In the end, there’s not a complete mathematical formula for working it out, but there are some ways to make prioritizing your tasks a habit, and a skill you can hone to get work done faster.

You just read chapter five. Download the entire ebook for free

How to prioritize

This guide will teach you how to manage your tasks, prioritize properly, and get a ton of important work done.

You’ve heard it all before. You have the same amount of hours in your day as anyone else…

…But what good are those hours if you’re not managing tasks properly?

I’ve improved my productivity threefold since I started researching and writing this ebook, and it’ll help you too change bad habits and put you on the path to productivity.

When you have multiple work tasks to complete each day, you may need to develop an effective system to manage them. Prioritizing is a way to determine what you should accomplish first based on importance. Understanding the best ways to prioritize your tasks can save you time in the workplace.

In this article, we discuss what prioritizing is, how to prioritize tasks and give examples of skills to help you prioritize effectively.

What is prioritizing?

Prioritizing includes deciding what order tasks should be completed based on their importance. This strategy may help you organize your time more efficiently. This helps you learn how to complete important tasks first, meet deadlines and have more time to finish larger tasks. Prioritization skills can help you accomplish more work in less time.

How to prioritize tasks at work

Consider these steps when prioritizing tasks in the workplace:

1. Decide which tasks are the most important

First, decide which tasks on your to-do list are the most critical. You could determine this based on deadlines you have for the week, client expectations or coworker requests. For example, you may focus on a marketing report due at the end of the day before moving on to other tasks.

2. Put your tasks in a calendar

Once you decide which tasks are most important, schedule them into your calendar. Prioritizing your time can be easier when you see your list of tasks each day. You may find that you focus better on those daily tasks when you have a visual reminder of each one you need to complete. Completing them can also provide a feeling of accomplishment.

3. Set boundaries

Once you focus on your tasks for that day, you can further prioritize by setting specific times to focus on your work. You may have coworkers that call, email or walk over to your desk regularly to talk to you about non-urgent issues. It is appropriate to let them know you are focused on a project and will speak with them at a later time. You can ask them not to disturb you during the morning, but that you would be happy to talk in the afternoon.

Another method of prioritizing your time is setting your email away message to let people know which hours of the day you respond to emails. You might find that you focus better and accomplish more tasks when you set specific times to work without interruptions.

Tips for prioritizing in the workplace

Here are a few ways you can prioritize your duties in the workplace, which can make you a more productive employee:

Account for distractions

Having distractions throughout your day is normal, whether you have shifted focus to another task or are responding to a coworker. You might also need breaks during the day to relax and refocus. When you accept that distractions will happen, you might have an easier time including them in your schedule. You can even schedule your breaks, such as a 10-minute coffee break mid-morning and a 15-minute walk late afternoon.

Get help from technology

With advancements in technology, there are many productivity tools available that can help you prioritize and stay on task. Downloading an application on your computer to keep track of your time on a specific task allows you to see how efficiently you’re working. You could also use a timer to help you focus on tasks and plan breaks. For instance, you could set your timer for an hour of work and plan to go on a break for five minutes afterward.

Prioritize one task at a time

It may be tempting to multitask to accomplish more, but it is often better to focus on one task at a time. This strategy can ensure your full attention is on that assignment so you can efficiently complete it before moving on to the next item on your list. You could have a higher chance of turning in quality work when you are not distracted by other tasks.

Use a scheduling tool

Prioritize tasks by writing everything you have due in the upcoming month. From there, determine what needs to be done daily, by the end of each week and by the month’s end. You can write this down on a spreadsheet and then organize the tasks in a calendar. Scheduling your tasks based on deadlines can help you stay focused and work more efficiently.

Delegate tasks

If you can assign duties or share responsibilities with coworkers, you could make a list of everything you need to complete by the end of the week and delegate specific tasks to others. Decide which tasks others could finish without your supervision and assign them to your coworkers so you can focus on issues that need your immediate attention. This way you can prioritize the tasks that you need to finish quickly.

How to highlight prioritization skills

Knowing how to prioritize your tasks can make you a more qualified job candidate. Here are several ways you can underline prioritization skills when applying to a new job:

Prioritization skills for your resume

A strong resume should list examples of prioritization skills you use at your current or previous employer. You can list several skills and explain how you use them. For example, you might say the following in your summary or objective on your resume:

“Lead marketing manager with three years of experience using prioritization skills to organize tasks by importance and set deadlines for the marketing department to ensure it completed all projects on time.”

Prioritization skills for your cover letter

Your cover letter is an opportunity to talk about how you prioritize tasks in more detail. You can tailor it to the position you are applying for by reading the job posting thoroughly and mentioning specific keywords that show you know how to prioritize, like being punctual or well-organized. For example, you could talk about your prioritization skills in your cover letter in the following way:

“In my prior position as a receptionist, I was in charge of scheduling appointments for the human resources team each day. I would get a large number of phone calls and emails daily from prospective employees, so I prioritized my tasks by spending the morning returning their calls. I would complete my emails in the afternoon when it was not as busy since they were not as urgent.”

How to prioritize

I’m sure you know the feeling of getting up for work in the morning with the feeling of having so much to do that you don’t know where to start. Oftentimes, everything that you have to do seems like a priority, which makes it tough to figure out where to begin.

First things first! In order to move the ball forward you need to start somewhere. Here are some planning tactics that I’ve found helpful when you need to set your mind on immediate execution. Although long-term prioritization and planning is also essential, these techniques help me to make progress on the micro-level, day-to-day basis.

  • Make a List: First thing in the morning, write down everything that needs to get done that day. Once you have everything down, separate the items into urgent vs. non-urgent to determine the top priorities for that day.
  • Assess the Value: Completing certain tasks will offer more benefit than others. For example, I have a rule that client work comes before internal work. Because client work not getting done has bigger ramifications more often than internal work.
  • Be Honest: When creating your list of priorities, be realistic about your bandwidth. Setting unattainable goals will only cause disappointment down the road.
  • Be Flexible: To be able to effectively prioritize, you must be able to deal with changing priorities. Take them as they come and decide if they are urgent or not.
  • Cut the Cord: As a perfectionist, this is the one that I struggle with the most. When something is really important, it’s easy to get caught up in the details and end up spending way too much time on a project or task. Spending too much time on one priority, however, prevents you from getting other stuff knocked off your list. Acknowledge when you’re doing this and enforce strict deadlines to prevent yourself from going down the rabbit hole.

Having a lot on your plate at once can feel very overwhelming, but almost anything is manageable if you learn to prioritize effectively.

How to prioritize

Modern life simply places too many demands on the average person, and as a result, we are left with too many unfinished tasks on our to-do lists.

If you are struggling to get to everything on your to do list, you’ve come to the right place. This article will explore a few key ways that you can set your priorities effectively and ultimately lead a better life.

Setting the bigger priorities in your life

When it comes to setting the bigger priorities in life, everyone is unique. For most people, their priorities are in a constant state of flux, shifting with the various demands that crop up on a daily basis.

In order to prioritize your daily tasks effectively, you’ll need a clear picture of the bigger goals and values in your life. For most people, this is a given with work, family and personal projects ranking highest.

If you haven’t already identified your major personal goals, it’s time you gave it some in depth thought. Whether this means consulting with an expert or simply spending a bit more time reflecting on what is important to you, it’s essential that you identify your core values before prioritizing the myriad of items on your daily to do list.

Setting daily priorities

One of the most difficult things about setting priorities is that new tasks and seemingly urgent tasks are constantly being added to the mix.

Email is one of the most notorious suspects, incessantly competing for your attention.

There are many tools and tips for setting daily priorities effectively, but ultimately it’s up to you to enforce whichever method you decide to use. A few tips are outlined below.

How to set your daily priorities: tips and tricks

1. Eat the frog first

The idea comes from an old saying, which theorizes that if you eat a frog first thing in the morning, the rest of your day can only get better.

Trying to prioritize your tasks by ensuring that you do the most difficult, unpleasant or urgent tasks first ensures more satisfaction and motivation to make it through the rest of the list.

Darshan Somashekar, who runs the card gaming site Solitaired, religiously follows this. He explains, “You have the most energy in the morning which is best directed toward prioritizing your most challenging tasks. Later in the day, when you have less energy, you’re still able to be productive with easier work. We have a tendency to deprioritize and postpone harder work, but it should really be the opposite.

2. Alternatively, prioritize easy smaller tasks

The satisfaction you get from ticking a few items off your list easily should be enough fuel to keep you going!

3. Cull your list ruthlessly

No matter how efficient you are, if you are completing unnecessary tasks there will be less time for the ones that really matter. Remove anything that is not important or doesn’t contribute to your own goals and values.

4. Separate your daily list into two parts

If unanticipated items are de-railing your days regularly, create a two-part list.

On one side, list all the tasks you know you need to accomplish; and draw a line below it. This becomes your ‘closed list’ and these are the highest priority for your day.

Any other items that come up (whether they are urgent or not) are added to the bottom of the list, and you can use your own discretion as to when to get to these.

You should aim to favor items in your closed list and squeeze the others in between.

5. Use online prioritization tools

The Internet can be one of your greatest tools in a quest to set and manage priorities more effectively.

There are apps to order your priorities, schedule your tasks and even integrated list management systems that can be linked to your phone, your email and your calendar to create a complete way to keep track of your priority at any given time.

Time Doctor is a great tool for prioritization also created by the founders of

Use some of the tips and tricks outlined in this article to set your priorities and enjoy a more fulfilled life knowing that you are getting to do the important things too.