How to Create a Priority List in 2023 and Get More Work Done
Successful people have clearly defined priorities in their to-do lists. The difference between a successful person regularly finishing tasks and someone struggling to complete tasks can be as simple as how they prioritize tasks.
Have you wondered why Elon Musk and other super successful people seem superhuman yet share the same number of hours in a day with you? Many factors distinguish the successful from the unsuccessful; ruthless prioritization of tasks is one.
This article will teach you everything you need to know about creating a priority list to complete more work.
Let’s get started.
What is a Priority List?
Your priority list is a list that spells out all the tasks to be embarked on in order of relative importance.
The items on your priority list are all the things that bring you a step closer to guaranteed success in both your personal and professional goals. This list ensures you stay focused and make progress at all points in time.
Every day as humans, we are faced with a list of too many tasks, and without clear priorities, we are most likely to end the day feeling overwhelmed. Living each day with a clear priority order would go a long way in making lives relatively easier.
Every project manager should know how to make and maintain a project list in project management.
Benefits of Making a Priority List in 2022
With only so many hours in a day available for productive work, creating a priority list ensures maximum efficiency and productivity when working through a to-do list. With your clearly defined priorities spelled out, it is easier to make progress in meeting set goals.
To be even more effective, try to create your important list using iOs or Android to-do list apps. Their main plus is that you can manage your priorities anywhere and on the go.
Let's discuss the benefits of making a priority list:
1. Better Organization of Tasks
To-do lists are stocked with an unending list of tasks to be accomplished, and it can make even the best of planners feel overwhelmed.
You must provide your to-do list with the necessary structure to ensure the focus is on the success of these tasks. By setting priorities through a priority list, you can better manage your tasks and stay focused on the most important tasks.
2. Makes Tracking Progress Easy
With the help of a priority list, you can visualize the progress made on your tasks better. By highlighting the most important things to be done and placing a higher priority on them, you can better keep tabs on the progress made on your SMART goals with your priority list.
3. Helps You Maintain Focus
Being faced with too many responsibilities can affect your mental well-being as it breeds distractions competing for your immediate attention. It opens you to being forgetful and makes concentration harder to accomplish.
An effective priority list helps protect your mental health and physical well-being by staying focused on the tasks.
4. Helps You Delegate Better
Apart from helping to determine the highest priority tasks on your task list, priority lists help you delegate tasks effectively.
With a priority list, the most important tasks are given high priority in ensuring they keep up with their scheduled time frame.
How to Create a Priority List
Take note of these factors to create an efficient priority list to simultaneously cover your personal and professional life, such as personal preference, value system, and available time.
Priorities help define what is important and needed to progress in life. You must follow a series of core steps to specific details to ensure the efficacy of your priority list.
Here are some important steps you need to follow when creating a priority list.
1. List Out All Your Tasks
The first step in creating your priority list is to spell out all the tasks you need to embark on during a set time frame.
You should jot down every task in as much as they would require a significant piece of your time. This list is often called a master list as it is very extensive. You can either choose to be simple and direct by using mere pen and paper to list out your tasks.
For better flexibility, you can use an effective project management tool for better relative prioritization. This tool ensures you can make changes and regularly update your list when you deem fit.
2. Rank Your Tasks and Distinguish Between Urgent and Important Tasks
Your fully compiled lists of tasks come with various tasks with varying levels of importance. It is usually determined by factors based on preference and values.
For difficulty in determining what tasks to place your focus on, consider using a priority matrix. The essence of a priority matrix is to help you ascertain what tasks are urgent and important by using a standard.
The Eisenhower Matrix is the most popular and widely used priority matrix. Developed by former President Eisenhower, it uses a four-quadrant technique to help in distinguishing tasks and ranking them as:
- Urgent and important (1st quadrant)
- Important and not urgent (2nd quadrant)
- Urgent and not important (3rd quadrant)
- Neither important nor urgent (4th quadrant)
Urgent tasks require immediate attention as they often have a fast-approaching deadline. On the other hand, important tasks contribute directly to meeting your personal and professional long-term goals.
With an adequate project management tool, you can distinguish between your tasks by utilizing the color-code function as a means to label your tasks.
3. Schedule, Delegate, and Edit Your List of Tasks
Prioritizing your list of tasks would require you to distinguish your tasks as either urgent or not or important or not. It is necessary as the timeline for completing these tasks is limited.
Spending time on less important and urgent tasks at the expense of urgent and important tasks can lead to increased stress and early burnout for you.
Using the Eisenhower Matrix, your lists of tasks are classified as urgent, important, important and not urgent, urgent and not important, or not urgent and not important.
By incorporating this classification into a calendar view, you better understand what tasks have top priority over others. You can delegate tasks grouped as urgent but not important to other team members with less on their plate to deal with at the moment.
Tasks that fall under not important and not urgent can then be deleted from your list of tasks. They have no direct impact on meeting your short-term and long-term goals.
4. Create an Order for Your List of Tasks
After scheduling, delegating, and deleting unimportant and urgent tasks from your list of tasks, the next step is creating an order for the remaining tasks on your task list. This step is crucial in creating your priority list.
You can rank your tasks list by utilizing the Eisenhower Matrix technique. After distinguishing your tasks and grouping them across the four distinct quadrants, you are required to rank tasks in each quadrant based on the order of priority.
You can do this by assigning each task in each quadrant a rating of 1 to 5. This score indicates various priority levels, with a score of 1 indicating top priority tasks and a score of 5, a lesser priority task for that quadrant.
If you use a project management tool to order your tasks, you can add high, medium, and low labels to your tasks to indicate their priority.
5. Tackle Your Task List Head On
You need to utilize systems that assist you in improving your productivity by better managing your workload. These productivity tools look for repetitive tasks that impede progress and waste valuable time.
Example List of Priorities at Work
Setting priorities in a work environment helps ensure the business's success, both present, and future goals.
You can accomplish the simple exercise of prioritizing the list of major tasks during a set period by placing these tasks in their order of importance.
Consider task dependencies, which means tasks dependent on completing another task, before drawing up your list of priorities at work.
For example, you must have completed or fully fulfilled the requirements for acquiring a previous skill before moving on to acquire a new skill.
Here is an example list of tasks for an online newspaper publishing firm:
- Writing articles
- Submitting articles for publication
- Editing articles
- Publishing articles
- Attending to customers and clients
- Researching topics to write about
- Replying to email from previous publications
- Accounting meetings
- Editorial meeting
- Website maintenance
As it is visible, there are a lot of tasks to be done all in time for the next publication. By placing priorities on these tasks and carrying them out from tasks with top priorities to least priorities, you are guaranteed a less hard time.
How to Manage Competing Priorities
The best and most efficient way of dealing with priorities in life, both personal and professional, and ensuring you do not waste time is by creating a list of tasks arranged in order of priority.
In doing this, there is the likelihood of more than one task competing for top priority. You must deal with this bottleneck of competing priorities before it leads to a more damaging situation.
Your list of priorities in life competes for the top priority concerning two main factors. These factors are time and value.
Here is how priorities compete and how best to manage them:
1. Priorities Compete for Time
Priorities compete among each other for relevance as regards time. With the number of available hours in a day somewhat limited, it is a bad idea to focus all the available time at your disposal on dealing with top priorities while leaving other tasks unattended.
Also, devoting the same amount of time to both secondary and top priorities is not efficient enough for the progress you seek. It raises a huge dilemma as to what to do.
The best way to manage the time factor effectively is to focus your priorities on sensitiveness. A typical example is your personal self-care preference to lose weight, reduce stress, exercise regularly, and eat a balanced diet.
Regular exercising and eating a regular balanced diet are time-sensitive and should be assigned top priorities above losing weight and reducing stress as they can be done much later.
2. Priorities Compete with Your Values
Priorities compete with the values system.
For example, your priority to live a healthy life by eating a balanced diet, reducing stress, regular exercise, and losing weight can compete with your work or professional life as other work activities make these choices seemingly harder to accomplish.
When priorities compete with values, choosing top priority becomes relatively harder. The best way of managing conflicting priorities is by first defining your value system. This step guides you in choosing what tasks would be given the top priority at the expense of others.
A priority level is a system to determine the order in which the task list is to be implemented. Your priority level needs to include all internal and external factors to ensure tasks are completed.
Some of these factors can be the physical health and physical well-being of individuals to undertake these tasks, availability of resources to complete tasks, future forecast, and a variety of other factors.
The most popular priority levels placed on tasks based on their level of importance are low priority tasks, medium priority tasks, high priority tasks, and top priority tasks.
The most important thing to note in setting priority for your task is its relevance to the future. Priorities cut across various facets of your professional and personal life.
Some popular examples of priorities are relationship priorities, work priorities, family priorities, and life priorities.
Creating a priority list requires you to write things down or, if you prefer the flexibility of a digital tool, to type things down. This move goes a long way in ensuring you do not forget key important details, and if need be, you can make changes when necessary.
You can effectively prioritize your task list by listing your tasks in their order of importance.
Taking time to prioritize tasks goes a long way in guaranteeing the efficiency of your work life. It is easier to be effective when working on a single task than when faced with a long to-do list of other tasks.
Spending time on things that are not crucial to the success of your goals at the expense of important things is not efficient for you. For this reason, you must set priorities for your task to have an overall sense of direction.
Determining what your top priorities in life are at any given point in time should be determined largely by the long-term goals you hope to achieve. Your defined priorities now should be dependent on your expected outcome at a much later time.
A priorities list provides the necessary structure and means to achieve your goals, so you must start prioritizing now.