So you’ve already got your to-do list with all of your tasks laid out, in typical task management fashion. How do you know what to work on first? Obviously, deadlines will be the key determining factor, but when you are having trouble starting your work, here are some criteria that you can base your decision on:
- Payoff: Is it a task that will yield high results, or is it a task that is particularly tedious and yields very little? Every task will need to be completed at some point, but by completing high-payoff tasks, you can build the momentum of being productive, which hopefully allows you to trudge your way through the low-reward tasks.
- Importance: How important is a task? This is an extremely vague question, as I’m sure you are thinking. Consider how the completion (or, non-completion) of that task will impact you/your work/your team. Does a colleague need data from you before he/she can begin his/her work? Perhaps that may outweigh another important task that, say, only affects you.
- Practicality: Can you complete the task as it stands? Are there any intermediate steps that require input from others? If so, you might consider completing a task up to the point where, for instance, you will need to wait for a response by email. Then, work on your other tasks while you wait. You put the ball (of responsibility) in someone else’s court on that specific task, and maximize your time by not sitting idly.
Spend a few days completing tasks, and see which of these criteria carry most value to you so that you can more quickly start/delegate tasks in future.