Do you regularly write to do lists only to find that you rarely get to the end of them? Do you continually chase your tail, hoping to complete your tasks but finding that something always manages to derail your efforts?
We all wish for more hours in the day, so we can achieve more whilst sat at our bespoke office desks, but the bottom line is that if we want to do more in the time we have, we need to be smarter with how we organise that time.
If you’re someone who regularly writes those to do lists we just mentioned, and you struggle to complete them, it’s probably because you’re committing some of the cardinal to do list sins. Don’t worry, we all make them from time to time, but knowing what mistakes you’re making and how to avoid them is key in order to actually hit your targets on a regular basis.
For a quick overview of how to prioritise your tasks effectively, ensuring you always meet your deadlines, check out this useful video below.
As you can see, prioritising your to do list, whether you go for a digital or traditional route, isn’t as hard as you think, and it’s really about being realistic and not too rigid in your approach.
The biggest mistakes we all make are:
- Trying to do too much and not being realistic – When you write your to do list at your office workstation, it’s vital that you’re realistic in what you’re trying to achieve. By attempting to do too much in one day, you’re simply setting yourself up for failure. Stick to a volume of work that you know you can achieve, and work towards ensuring the right tasks are completed within the right timescales, rather than more volume in general.
- Not adding in time for ‘just in case’ – when writing your list and prioritising your tasks, do you give much thought to ‘what if, or ‘just in case’? This is a big mistake! Throughout every single day there is bound to be one task that comes your way that you weren’t expecting, or a task which takes you longer than you thought. Having a little ‘buffer time’ will mean your priority list isn’t thrown into chaos.
- Forgetting about travel time – If you have to go somewhere out of the office, away from your bench desks, you need to add in travel time. This is something many people forget! When you forget this vital factor, you’re basically trying to cram more work into time that simply won’t stretch!
- Placing importance in the wrong place – The whole idea of prioritising is that the most important and most urgent tasks are completed first, with the less important and less urgent tasks being completed afterwards. Knowing what is important/urgent versus what isn’t is vital, and it’s a common mistake to place quick jobs at the top of the list, because it’s easier to tick them off, rather than the most important. Stick to true importance, not a quick fix.
- Becoming frustrated when something goes wrong, and giving up – The final mistake is throwing the list out of the window (virtually, of course) when something goes wrong. By factoring in ‘just in case’ time, you shouldn’t have these instances happening, and you won't feel the frustration that causes you to sit on your ergonomic chair with your head in your hands!
Overcoming prioritisation mistakes means that you’re bound to get more work done in the time you have. Most of us do our very best to race through our lists, ticking off tasks as we go, feeling satisfied with every tick. The thing is, are you ticking off the right tasks? Are you focusing on the small tasks that recur, or are you focusing on the tasks that have looming deadlines?
Be more effective and efficient in your prioritisation efforts and you’ll find that you magically create more hours in the day.