How to prioritise to boost your performance

Ever increasing workloads and endless to-do lists can floor even the most efficient employee. It’s likely, however, that there will always be a large amount of work competing for your attention. The trick isn’t getting it all done immediately, it’s working out which things need to be done first. Successful people know how to prioritise effectively and when to move on to the next task.

Keeping on top of what needs to be done, and when, won’t just make you feel more organised, it will also greatly increase your productivity.

Know when you work best

Some of us work best in the morning, others feel more on the ball later in the day. Work out which times work best for you and schedule accordingly. The more challenging the task, the more important it is that you tackle it when you’re feeling at your peak.

Avoid distractions

Steer clear of things that soak up your time unnecessarily. A ‘quick’ check of Facebook is likely to take much longer than you realise. The same principle applies to talking with colleagues. Socialising is an important part of interacting and networking at work, but avoid chatty people who just want to talk for talking’s sake.

Delegate

No one will thank you for trying to do everything if you end up driving yourself into the ground and missing deadlines. Delegate when it makes sense to do so. You should also tell your line manager if you are feeling overwhelmed so that work can be reassigned.

Take a break

Don’t believe the myth that working flat-out all day is the way to get things done. You will lose focus if you’re not taking breaks and it will end up being counter-productive. Take regular screen breaks and avoid eating at your desk whenever possible.

Take time to prioritise

It takes time to actively assess your to do list and work out what to prioritise but it is time well spent. Give yourself the space at the start of every day to decide on the more urgent tasks, the tasks you can delegate etc. Write a list. It may seem basic but people love lists for a reason. Write down everything that needs to be done and then work out their order of importance.

Go offline

Each time a new text, email or message alert appears, your train of thought is completely derailed. If your work allows it, set aside time each hour to check new messages and steer clear outside of that time. You will find you waste much less time jumping from task to task.

Be flexible

Things will change. New tasks will crop up throughout the day. Be ready to alter your priorities and move things around. Assess each new task as it occurs and deal with it accordingly.

Know when you’re done

A key skill is knowing when you’re done. Make sure you’re not lingering on tasks that are actually already completed to a satisfactory level. That doesn’t mean not doing your best, it means knowing when your best isn’t going to get any better so that you can move on to the next task.