If you’re like most people, you probably have a mountain of various tasks coming from all different directions. So how do you approach these various tasks? For starters, you have to learn how to handle your priorities effectively and complete them one at a time rather than multitasking. In fact, using the plural term “priorities” is slightly misleading. You can’t have more than one priority at a given time; you have one priority followed by several tasks. Learn how to weed through your tasks by following the tips below.

  1.      Sort work by deadlines. Choosing your first priority is usually the easiest once you take a breath and lay your work out in front of you. The first project you should work on is the one with the impending deadline. However, deadlines are relative to the amount of work you must complete and how you choose to work. Imagine you have two tasks: one is due tomorrow, but only takes an hour to complete; the other is due two days from now, but takes many hours upon hours to complete. You may work best by completing the hour-long task first or by completing the longer task as a priority to get it out of the way. It entirely depends on your working method.
  2.      Decide the “business hours” of each priority. After sorting through which tasks have the closest deadlines and completing those first, you may be left with tasks that either have the same deadlines or may not even have deadlines at all. For example, many people have ongoing tasks, meaning that there is not a specific deadline, but you still have to complete the work. To effectively complete each goal while still keeping your priority task in check, plan the time you will spend on each one. Set aside large blocks of time to spend on tasks determined by the deadline, and place other tasks without deadlines in smaller blocks. Create an actual schedule, such as 8am – 1pm on the first priority, 1pm – 3pm on another, and 3pm – 5pm on the final. Fit your time to your specific needs.
  3.      Ensure a work-life balance. Once you have each task sorted by deadline and a schedule lined up, ensure that it does not overtake another priority after the schedule is up for the day. When you head home after a long day of work, you should immediately switch from work priorities to life priorities. Sit down for dinner and don’t stress over your work. If you determine your priorities correctly and follow your schedule, you shouldn’t have any work left to dread over.

It’s often difficult to determine your top work priority. When multiple tasks demand your attention, you have to actively take a moment and decipher which should be completed at what time. By following these three tips, you’ll surely be on your way to a smoother, more productive work day.