Looking to improve your prioritization skills? Here are 5 ways in which leaders can better prioritize their work and achieve more in a day.

While welcoming the new year, most of us may set out to make resolutions for the coming year. How about making a resolution to prioritize work effectively in 2022?

Being able to prioritize your workload will help you approach your goals with more clarity.

Allow me to explain…

Time and energy are the most valuable resources for any leader.

Picture this: You’ve got a team to manage. You’ve been working long hours (at times burning the midnight oil). Tasks have been piling up. Deadlines are soon approaching… and your to-do list? Well, that remains untouched.

Do all these things ring a bell?

This is the glaring reality for most leaders today. More often than not, leaders feel tied down and overwhelmed with the numerous tasks that they are juggling at once. It almost seems as though you are playing a game of ‘whack-a-mole’ where you are putting out fires and reacting to the constant barrage of issues that crop up during the day.

With leaders scrambling for time to complete tasks and focus on the more strategic part of their role, here are my two cents: Stop trying to achieve tasks that may seem urgent and prioritize those that are important.

The late Stephen Covey, educator, author, and businessman was on point when he said, “The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.”

When everything appears to be a priority, it’s important to break things down — identify tasks that need to be tackled first and the ones that can be delegated to your team.

Back to the basics: What is prioritization all about?

Establishing priorities is crucial, especially when you have mounting expectations to deal with.

Prioritizing will help you to attend to the more important tasks at hand and eventually complete things that you set out to do. To save time and energy, it’s important to chart out the tasks that you have — this will help you pick up the ones that need your attention right away. In the process of listing out your tasks, you will also realize that there are a few that may take up a lot of your time but may not result in substantial benefits — you can look into them at a later point.

Determining the top priorities for the organization and yourself will help you stay focused and be more productive.

Make no mistake, prioritization is different from task management. While prioritization is to pick up tasks in the order of their importance, task management is simply — tracking a task to completion and taking decisions based on the progress of the task.

While we may be guilty of confusing task management with prioritization, according to Harvard Business Review — task management is one of the reasons why most leaders fail. When you end up being highly task-focused, things like building a strong team and inspiring your teammates, end up taking a back seat.

The 5-step framework to help leaders prioritize work

This tweet by Adriana Girdler, PMP Productivity & Project Expert, tells us why prioritization is the key to staying focused when we are being pulled in a myriad of directions.

Here’s a quick rundown of the top 5 ways in which you can get things done with prioritization:

  1. Look at the bigger picture: It’s important to step back and revisit your organization’s goal. Prioritize tasks that are crucial to the success of your business.
  2. Delegate the right tasks to the right people: A major chunk of prioritizing your workload involves delegation. Don’t just pass the buck. Each of your team members brings something different to the table. Understanding their strengths and weaknesses will help you a great deal in prioritizing tasks.
  3. Steer clear of distractions: It’s important to identify and get rid of any distractions that might be slowing you or your team down.
  4. Commit to a daily routine of prioritization: Prioritization is not a one-time activity. Make it a point to list your tasks for the day, prioritize the important ones, hand over tasks effectively to your team, check back on tasks in progress and check off the completed items.
  5. Lastly, be flexible and adaptive: Sure, you’ve got your whole day planned out — but you also need to leave room to take on new priorities as and when they pop up. Don’t be weighed down by a fixed schedule, be ready to accommodate different types of contingencies along the way.

Parting thoughts

Taking time out to prioritize your tasks is a worthwhile investment. In fact, mastering prioritization is one of the core factors that will help you find success as a leader. When you’re getting things done, flitting from one task to another — you will be setting a classic example for your team, of how work should be managed effectively.

Follow me on LinkedIn and stay updated with all that’s happening in the financial services and payments world.

T M Praveen is a highly accomplished global payments leader with over 20 years of experience. A veteran in the payments industry, Praveen has immense wealth of insights to share in payments innovations, emerging technologies, FinTech, and financial services.

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