How to prioritize: the easy way

Last week I spoke about becoming more productive in order to become more creative. So let’s assume you have cleared your space of clutter and the creativity is abundant. You have so many ideas and project possibilities, which do you chose first?

This is a problem I come across regularly when I am feeling creative and I have existing projects that I am working on, my brain wants to explore this new found creativity but shouldn’t I finish the jobs I am currently working on first?


So here comes the problem of prioritization. Most of you will be familiar with the 4 quadrant model where you divide your tasks into what is important, what is urgent, what is urgent and important, and there you lose me. My brain starts to melt, zoom out, zone out not for me. Yes it probably works and is an effective time management tool, but as an extrovert this kind of detail fries my brain. Not only am I an extrovert, but I am an impatient one. I want to get stuck in and not waste time drawing squares and working out if writing this article is more urgent than writing that article.

So what to do? I like to simplify, so I ask myself two simple questions.

1. What one thing would I like to achieve this year to make this one of my best years yet?

2. Which of the tasks in front of me will help me achieve that goal?

After that we can employ common sense, if something urgent pops up, we obviously do the urgent thing first. These questions can be modified for what you want to achieve this month or this week.

In a work scenario the question will change slightly but the concept will remain the same. What are my objectives for the year, for the month or for this week? What does my boss want done? What tasks will help my organization reach its goals.


Before you start make sure what you think are the priorities are in alignment with your manager’s view. Very often poorly communicated goals can lead to a lack of clarity with work objectives leaving you diligently working on the wrong tasks.


Use a calendar or diary to schedule your tasks, this is the time to decide which task needs to be done today or can it be moved into tomorrow. Scheduling your time ensures that you are allocating time to all of your duties and tasks.

Stay Focused

Once you have allocated your time, stick to your schedule. Focusing on one task until its completion will give you greater momentum; you will also feel better with the power of completion once the task has been completed. Sometimes this may not be possible but you should at least stay focused on the task at hand during the time you have allocated for it. Eliminate distractions from your office or workspace. Turn off the phone and don’t check emails

If you still find it difficult to prioritize you can ask yourself the following questions

What impact would it have on my client if I do not complete this task today?
Is there a financial impact if the job isn’t completed today?
How will my boss react if the job isn’t completed today?

So get going and don’t procrastinate… more on that in a couple of weeks.

Have a productive and creative week.

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Comments (3)

Good suggestions thanks Ciara

Very well articulated. I will try and put these in practice. My biggest challenge is the distractions. Turn off my blackberry will be really difficult, but will try. Thanks!

Hi Enwongo,
Give it a go you will be surprised how liberating it feels to not be controlled by your phone. Good Luck

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