Prioritization is Key to Keeping Order

Michele Warg
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As an administrative professional, you must have the ability to look at a to-do list and immediately determine which tasks are the most important. Prioritizing tasks effectively makes your list more manageable and helps you get the most out of your day. Follow these tips to prioritize tasks and consistently get things done on a day-to-day basis.

Not everyone feels productive at the same time each day, so identify your most productive hour. For some people, the first hour of the day is when they get the most work done. Others are more productive after they've gotten several easy tasks out of the way. To identify your most productive hour, track your work for three or four days. Write down the date, the time and the amount of work you completed. After several days of tracking, you should see a pattern emerge. Your most productive hour is the hour of the day you complete the most work. Once you identify your productivity pattern, plan to complete complex tasks during your most productive hour. Save easy tasks for other times.

Try using four different to-do lists when prioritizing tasks. Keep a daily list with all the tasks you need to complete on a particular day. Then, create weekly and monthly lists for tasks you need to complete within a short amount of time. Finally, maintain a master list of tasks you need to complete at some point in the future. If you want to organize the file room, for example, you might need to wait until you complete all the tasks on your daily, weekly and monthly lists.

Breaking a complex project into a sequence of small steps makes prioritizing tasks much easier. If you're tasked with creating a new spreadsheet template, create the template, email it to everyone in your department with a request for feedback, review the feedback and then adjust the template based on the feedback. Each of these steps represents one of the tasks you need to complete to finish the entire project.

Improving your focus also makes prioritizing tasks easier, especially if you deal with a lot of distractions. You cannot prevent people from calling or emailing you, but you can change how you respond to these disruptions. For example, check your email every 20 minutes instead of responding to messages the minute they hit your inbox. If you need to concentrate on an important project, ask your supervisor if it's OK for you to wear noise-canceling headphones while you work.

To succeed in the administrative field, you must be proficient at prioritizing tasks and staying productive. Take time to identify your most productive hour. Then use multiple to-do-lists to manage and prioritize your workload to ensure you complete every project on time.

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