How to prioritize tasks when everything is super-duper important
The sphere of operation for an Office Manager or an Executive Assistant can make one’s head spin: list of tasks, all of them are super urgent and long, very long! Suffice to say that it is very important to prioritize tasks. All the projects and mainly big projects, like changing a process which has been implemented for ages, is part of the clear-cut priority. You can use all the tools and technology at your disposal, regardless of what happens, you’ll definitely need to establish priorities. So how can you define priorities, when all the requests made to you were “super-duper important day before yesterday, if I may” ? Let us help you before any disaster were to occur.
Make a list of all your tasks
Use a to-do list tool or any other tool. A scrap of paper and a pen will do the deal. Jot down all the tasks you may think of doing today or this week. For the time being, don’t worry about the order of importance, just stick to jotting everything down and don’t think too much.
Pinpoint what is urgent and important
Now that you have a list in front of you, you’ll need to determine if some of the tasks require immediate attention. This means that if you don’t finish these tasks before the end of the day, one may seriously yell at you/you could get fired/or strike World War 3. Also, check if some tasks really depend on others, if so, you should handle them at once.
Assess the value of tasks
You have now identified what is important and urgent: this is what you need to work on first. As for the rest, it’s about assessing the value of each task. What is the most valuable for the company? What is going to quickly trigger expenses, save money, favor the well-being of employees in a major way, prevent everyone from heading towards the competitor? You can assign points to each of the tasks, so that you realize their level of important. Perhaps, it’ll be more interesting to quickly work on implementing a new payroll system (your company has moved on from 15 employees to 130, in a span of 6 months, suffice to say that the old hasty system isn’t a possibility anymore), rather than ordering new bulbs for the napping room (honestly, is it really important, if there is no light in the napping room?).
Another way of assessing the importance and value of your tasks is by defining the number of people who are concerned by your work. Generally, the more the number of people involved in your task, the more important the task. Think about this when it comes to prioritizing.
Assess the required efforts, to round off tasks
To choose among several tasks which seem to have the same level of priority and value, try to begin with the task which requires a lot of effort. Productivity experts consider that the strategy of beginning with the most difficult task, is the best way to tackle thing. But if you’re tired on this day, don’t force yourself to do so: go about things instinctively. At times, it’s more motivating to tick another box in one’s to-do list, even if the task is very simple, before handling major time-consuming tasks.
Be flexible but remain focused
You know very well that when one is an Office Manager, one has planned tasks for the day, but then the boss makes a first request, another person comes complaining because 7 dollars are missing in his pay stub, the top-notch coffee machine which cost 800 bucks, is out of order and your entire plan has been shaken up. You should know that your priorities can and are going to change, constantly. So, you can review your priorities, but remain focused on the most important tasks, the ones you had promised to finish.
Learn to flush out tasks
You’ll probably never manage finishing everything you had jotted down on your list of tasks, it’s frustrating but this is how things are. Learn to regularly flush out tasks, those which aren’t urgent or important. At the end of the day, if it isn’t you, nobody will take notice of this, so what’s the point. Worst-case scenario, postpone but not on your to-do list. Prioritizing your tasks, should give you a list of realistic things to accomplish, otherwise you’ll end up taking a sick leave.
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