Image via Al Abut
LAURA VANDERKAM of FastCompany has a list of 5 important tips to narrow down the really important things on your to do list.
She suggests making a list of everything that needs to be done, and then whittling it down to 2-3 items using the following criteria.
1. IT’S A STEP TOWARD A BIG PROFESSIONAL GOAL
In life, it’s always easy to shove off important—but not urgent—tasks. A colleague wants an email answered, so you do. You don’t have to work on that book proposal, so you don’t.
But keep in mind, people who accomplish great things in life prioritize those great ideas alongside mundane tasks. To be sure, you shouldn’t brainstorm how you’ll reform health care when your boss needs a document turned around in an hour.
If you put in an hour in your home office before commuting, or you get to the office early for some quiet time, then that can be a great slot for putting first things first.
2. YOUR BOSS SAYS IT’S A TOP PRIORITY
Good managers strive to create a risk-free environment for people to ask what matters and what doesn’t. If you’re not sure what work should be done first, stop by your boss’s office and ask him or her to choose. You’re not bothering the boss. Assistance with prioritization is the core of management.
This is especially important if your manager has given you multiple high-profile projects concurrently. He or she may be dealing with shifting deadlines, or shifting priorities higher up the ladder, and you want to be helpful.
3. IT MAKES YOU MONEY
Not everyone has a boss, but most of us aim to make cash one way or another. In her book Never Check Email in the Morning, time management guru Julie Morgenstern advises people to “dance close to the revenue line.”
“In tough economic times, your ability to make or save your company money is where your greatest value lies,” she writes. Revenue enables everything else. If time is tight, then reaching out to a new client is more important than getting to the bottom of your inbox.
4. IT LIGHTENS YOUR MENTAL LOAD
If you’re worried about a difficult phone call, then don’t fret about it all week. Just schedule it in at 9 a.m. the next day and do it. By 9:30 a.m. you’ll be done, and can devote your attention to knocking off other priorities.
5. IT CAN ONLY BE DONE TODAY
Some tasks are more time sensitive than others. If your mentor is flying all day tomorrow and you want his or her feedback on something that’s due tomorrow, then you’ll need to prioritize calling him or her today—even if that call might not naturally leap out as a high priority.