Managing multiple priorities can result in important jobs being shuttled aside while you spend extra time on low priority tasks. What’s more, balancing multiple priorities becomes even more difficult when all of the items in your work load are of high importance.
You simply cannot work on everything at once. And even if you feel as though swapping tasks frequently is helping you tackle more high-priority items, according to the Harvard Business Review, multi-tasking can actually result in a 40 percent reduction in productivity.
To be productive and to finish multiple tasks in one day, try block scheduling, and prioritizing your projects, rather than trying to attack everything at once.
Managing Multiple Priorities with Block Scheduling
The block scheduling method is one that is shown to be simple, yet effective.
Essentially, block scheduling is the practice of breaking up your day into distinct blocks of time, and scheduling singular tasks for each time chunk. This ensures that you focus on one task only during those hours.
Block scheduling can be done with a paper calendar or an online scheduling tool. Whatever your choice, your tool should have the capability to break up your day into distinct, hourly blocks.
Use whatever system you’re comfortable with; this will increase the odds that you keep the habit.
Simple Steps for Implementaion
Write down the list of everything you have to do for the day.
Estimate how long each item will take you.
Schedule each individual item for that amount of time in your day. Work on it for the designated amount of time, then move on.
Tips for Block Scheduling
Here are a few tips to keep in mind when using the block scheduling method:
- Make a conscious choice to track your productivity for a few days to discover your personal rhythms. Every person is more effective at one time of the day more than others. Some have most of their energy at the beginning of their work day. Others get a burst of energy after an afternoon slump. Knowing your mind and body is essential.
- Schedule your task with the highest priority onto the block of the day with the most potential for energy. Save low priority tasks for times when your energy is low and rearrange your list as needed until the day is completely filled.
- It’s crucial for you to clearly estimate how long each task will take. Be honest. Don’t schedule a 90-minute task into an hour block.
- Concentrate on only one task at a time, and to move on to another task when the time block is up. Finished or not, move on. This will force you to make realistic estimations.
- If anything crucial is left at the end of the day, finish it then.
- By the time your day is done, you’ll probably find nothing left but low priority items, which can be left for another day, or removed from your desk entirely. Remember, saying “no” can make you more efficient.
Managing Multiple Priorities with Eisenhower Prioritization
Block scheduling works, but it depends on knowing how to prioritize a list of tasks. In short, you need to make sure your most important projects make it onto your schedule during your most productive hours.
Each item on your list may look important (this is why prioritization is hard) but a quick analysis can show which ones should be at the top of the list.
The easiest way to break down a list of tasks is by using the Eisenhower Method. Named after the president who invented it, this method relies on you asking two questions about each task:
- How critical is it?
- How urgent is it?
Put each task onto one of four categories to determine how important they are to your work day.
Tips for Using Eisenhower
- Critical and Urgent items such as imminent deadlines should be tackled first. Schedule these items for times of your greatest energy and productivity.
- Items that are Critical but Not Urgent are those that advance your goals forward. Once you’ve cleared out the Critical and Urgent list, you can move on to these. This is a great place to store initiatives that you don’t have time for now.
- Delegate the Urgent but not Critical. These projects generally don’t demand your expertise. See if one of your team members can take it on.
- Cut out items that stay “Un-categorized” for too long; they didn’t demand enough attention to get scheduled, so save your time by throwing them out.
Managing Multiple Priorities, You Can do it!
A busy work day can look like a mountain of tasks, but with a few minutes of organization you can sail through a productive day, finishing more tasks than you ever thought possible.