Time management- Prioritize tasks to manage time effectively


This article explains the importance of preparing daily to-do lists. Into various categories, we need to prioritize our tasks as it is an effective time management tip. It helps us to finish tasks at the right time and in the right order.

Introduction

Time is very precious and we all know that time and tide wait for none. Managing it properly and effectively to hack productivity is a key to success. We all need to learn this skill of time management and make the best use of it by implementing it in our everyday lives. By learning time management technique, we will be able to make the most out of our every day and then success will come to us naturally. To manage time properly, we need to prioritize our tasks and use our time for productive purposes. Some of us can finish everything as per schedule whereas others are tempted to rush from one task to another and still their work remains unfinished. Former are using time management skills whereas later ones are just struggling. Time management is nothing but to prioritize and organize things before tasks are carried out. This will give an idea of what to do and when to do. Learn organizing- An effective time management skill along with prioritizing to manage time effectively and efficiently.

Importance of time management

Time management skills play a very important role in almost all walks of life. We need time to study, for leisure, for job hunting, for earning money, for family, outdoor activities etc. If we do not balance it out then there will be constant conflicting demands of time from some area or the other. We need to pay equal attention so that we can flourish in all walks of life. This is why time management is important. When time is not managed properly then we start complaining that there is not sufficient time available to carry out so and so. We end up missing so much and blame time as we feel that it is the one who often falls short. We do not realize that time did not fall short for anything; it was we who could not manage it properly. Improper time management itself is the reason for building up of lots of stress and tension. This is why we need to learn skills or ways to manage our time properly so that our day to day routines get adjusted likewise which will not only reduce time related unnecessary stress and tension in our lives but also help us pay equal attention in each and everyone walks of our life.

Prioritize tasks

We all know which tasks are urgent, which ones are important and which rank low on a priority list. Before starting the job, we need to prepare to-do list and write our tasks under these categories. Tasks which are labelled as urgent have to be finished at the earliest. Those which come under important ones should be finished next. Low-priority tasks can later be completed at the end of the day. Just writing down everything in a list will not do any wonders. To-do list when is categorized on priority basis will simplify everything and prevent work-related stress in our lives. There should be some sort of reminder system which will enable us to remember which task has to be done when. Preparing a list of daily tasks itself is an action planning. Also, updating the list daily is also important. Tasks which are done need to be crossed and those which need to be done should be added.

Prioritizing means completing urgent tasks first and keeping low priority tasks for the end. This kind of work done can be called an effective working. Efficient working is different from effective working. Individual works hard and finishes all his tasks efficiently, but what if he is completing all those tasks which are of low priority which can even be done later and leaving out all those urgent and important tasks. That person seems to be working efficiently, but not effectively.

Advantages of prioritizing

  • No task will be left unfinished. Each and every task will get accomplished at right time.

  • We can control the whole situation, instead of allowing situation to control us.

  • A to-do list saves lots of time. In absence of list, mind wanders between the tasks and most of them will be left unfinished.

  • Our focus and attention shifts on important objectives and we will be able to view a bigger, clearer picture.

  • Writing or listing will save us from holding tasks into our head.

  • There is no risk of going on sidetrack or derailing.

  • There is no scope for any task remaining unfinished.

  • Priorities get decided and listed.

Difference between urgent and important tasks

While prioritizing tasks, we often get confused between urgent and important ones. It is not at all necessary that urgent task may be an important one. We need to know the difference between the two. Urgent ones require our immediate attention. It is up to us whether we need to give them attention or not. On the other hand, important tasks cannot be left unattended. Not attending them can lead to serious damages.
Examples-
  • Daily exercising or meditating comes under important tasks and it should not be avoided to avoid health-related problems.

  • Attending a phone call is urgent. It depends on who is calling. Each and every phone call cannot be urgent.

  • Dropping and picking up children from school and tuition are both urgent as well as important.

  • Spending time watching television or on social media is neither urgent not important. Still, we keep spending time on such tasks more than more important ones. Though of low priority, we all do it first thing every morning.

Create a daily plan

Based on the priority list, we need to prepare our plan on daily basis, first thing in the morning. In order to avoid further hustle-bustle, we can also write it down previous night itself. The plan keeps us on tracks. Our aim should be to stick to our prepared plan as much as possible. Just prioritizing is not enough; we need to give an approximate time limit to each task. If not done then we may drag a single task for too long which will thereby affect our whole plan or timetable. Do not forget to mark deadlines. This will give a clear idea that we need to finish that particular task before the deadline ends. It is always better to finish work before the time allotted or before deadline itself. This way, we can efficiently finish our work.

Our target should always be to finish early then we may end up finishing early or at least on time. If we target to finish on time then we may end up finishing on time or mostly after that. If possible, set alarms or keep a clock in front of eyes to not lose track of time. In between each task, there should always be planned an interval or a break time. Since we are not machines, we cannot work continuously. We need to have that buffer time or a transition period from one task to another and thus does not pack all the tasks very closely. All the related tasks should be packed together. This will create synergy. Since we develop a rhythm in our work, we will tend to finish our aligned tasks quickly, especially if they are similar.

Say no to distractions and multi-tasking

Channeling attention is very important. Work often gets delayed because we pay our attention to not so important tasks while carrying out our urgent and important ones. Again this is because of not prioritizing tasks well and due to multi-tasking. If we wish to maintain our quality standards then we should not multi-task. It is better to finish one job at a time. This is because our brain requires time to refocus and makes us less productive. Since the complete focus is not given then tasks get delayed which will ultimately affect the whole timetable. Say no to all those tasks which are neither important nor urgent and can wait. Say no to all such tasks which we surely know that they are headed nowhere. Say yes to productive tasks. Say yes only to those commitments if there is some time for them and if we really value them. Shut the door if someone constantly interrupts and delays work. Shut mobile so that e-mails and social networking do not create any distraction. Try to eliminate all such tasks which can be called as non-essentials.

Conclusion

Time management is nothing but to prioritize and organize everything before tasks are carried out. This will give an idea of what to do and when to do. To finish work beforehand or at least as per deadlines, we need to prepare to-do list on daily basis and this should be done first thing in the morning. This to-do list should categorize tasks into categories like urgent, important and neither urgent nor important or low priority tasks. We need to stick to this plan as much as possible and not allow ourselves to go off tracks by getting distracted. Distraction can be anything like frequent browsing on internet, television, mind wandering through various thoughts, phone calls or even it may be a person. We need to identify and shut down all the distractions for effective working. Multi-tasking, on the other hand, should be avoided and complete focus should be kept on the present task to increase productivity. We need to understand the difference between tasks which require our urgent attention and the ones which can wait. When we stick to our to-do list and prioritize everything orderly then we can very well manage our time.


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