How to Prioritize When Everything Is Important (Part 2)
The first thing you need to learn on How to Prioritize Tasks or Projects when everything is Important is to Answer this Question: Is Everything Really Important?
Even if everything on your plate is supposed to be equally important, you still need a way to break down which ones you spend your time on, and how you slice up your time.
You can check out tips to help you cut through the fog here. Another thing you need to do is to Get Organized because for your priorities to even matter, you need to have some sort of personal productivity system in place to which you hold yourself accountable.
I will continue from where I stopped in the last post.
In this post I'll be sharing with you three (3) other ways to prioritize when everything is important.
Before I move into it, you can still check out the previous post here to get the first two (2) ways to prioritize when everything is important.
The Trinity: Cost, Scope, and Time
The "triple constraint," or a triangle with three equilateral sides is one of the things that has helped people decide how important their tasks are.
Each side of the triangle represents the cost of the project, the scope of the project, and the time required to complete the project. None of the sides can be adjusted without making changes to the other two sides.
The sides you're weakest in help determine the projects that need special attention. This holds true for all things because if someone heaps more work onto you (scope), but insists that you finish in the same amount of time (time), you'll need more resources (cost) to get the job done.
For example, if you want to paint your spare room in time for out of town guests to stay over, you can't change the size of the job (scope), but you can control whether you buckle down and do it yourself overnight (time), or get someone else to do it for you while you do something else (cost). Here's how you can use these three principles to organize your everyday to-dos.
Time: Work Backwards From Your Deadlines.
Time is usually the one variable most of us can't change. Deadlines are deadlines, and often we're not the ones who set them. This is where working backwards from due dates is crucial.
Start a spreadsheet, and mark down when each project or task on your plate needs to be finished. Then work backwards to the present day, taking into account everything, each specific to-do that needs to be done to get from here to there, and how long it takes to complete.
When you're finished, you'll likely see a bunch of tasks that should have started already and others that hopefully won't start for a while if you're going to make the deadline.
That list, by itself, is a good indicator of what your priorities are, what you should be working on right now, what you should work on next, and perhaps most importantly, what you should get help with—especially if they're tasks that should have started a week ago.
Cost: Get Help from Family, Friends, and Coworkers.
Cost means more than just money. It also means people who can help you, or services you can call to give you a hand or take the load off.
Could you finish faster if someone else worked on it for you? What if a teammate could take part of the job off your hands and you could pick it up later?
Perhaps there's a program or application that can automate the process for you, and it's pretty cheap.
It may be worth spending money or dragging in friends to help you finish renovating the kitchen before you run out of vacation days, or calling someone to install your new washing machine so you don't have to take time off to do it.
Scope: Don't Be Afraid to Make Compromises.
If your to-dos have to be done by a certain time and you can't get help, it's time to sit down with the people waiting on you and start making some deals.
Let them know what you can deliver by when, and then go on to explain what you can give them later.
This is important, because it sends the message that you're not trying to avoid the work you have to do, but you're trying to give them something now that they can use while you keep working in the background to get them everything else on their wish list.
The sooner you stop thinking of your to-dos in terms of all or nothing, the sooner you'll have the flexibility to say "I'll give you this tomorrow if you give me a week to give you the rest."
Delegate, Delegate, Delegate
It's easy for us to toil away in obscurity, quietly hating our lives and our jobs and growing more frustrated with every passing minute.
All the while, there may be a friend who's willing to help if we had only asked, or a boss who would be willing to help you out if you asked the right questions or gave them the right information.
We've talked about how difficult it can be to delegate, and how to delegate effectively in the past, but however you go about it, it's important to remember that you need to be assertive, not aggressive when asking for help, and you need to make your case with all of the data you have available.
By now, you should have your priorities laid out and you have a good idea what you need. Use that information to ask for help and prove you need it, and remember, don't be upset if your friends, boss, or coworkers say no.
Buckle Up, It's Going to be a Bumpy Ride
Using this method to set your own priorities and keep track of your own responsibilities isn't just something you should do when you're starting to feel overwhelmed.
If the walls are closing in on you, yes, it's definitely time to take a good, hard look at what's on your plate, what can come off, and what has to give, but waiting until you're already busy and stressed out will make it especially difficult to make the changes you need to get your head above water.
Even so, it's essential, and once you do it you'll never look back. Hopefully, you can apply these tricks to your work, at home, and in your daytoday life.
Once you really understand what you have to work on and how long it takes, you'll be able to make smart decisions about whether you can take on that big new project at work, or help your best friend plan their bachelor party.
These tips ate indicators to you that you can prioritize correctly and not end up buried under tons of work.
Kindly follow these tips and the ones in the previous post to be able to get a better hold on working and delivering effectively and efficiently.
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