Being able to prioritize different tasks isn’t always easy, especially when you have a million and one things to do. And when you’re a content writer by profession, those tasks generally revolve around writing numerous articles and following strict deadlines.
While your balancing work with your personal life, you can lose sight of how to properly manage your time when you go under an overwhelming cloud. The following methods for outlining my priorities have greatly helped me in organizing different facets of my daily routines.
Start off on the Right Foot
While successful figures like Michelle Obama and Tim Cook are early risers, many of us are not exactly morning people. Before you start thinking that it’s a pillar for success and decide to go crawling under a rock, consider the fact that many others are actually night owls. All of us follow different times of productivity and just simply have to work around our busy schedules in an efficient way.
By starting off with the right foot in the morning, I mean you should wake up and smell the roses with rituals that put you in a positive mindset. I could be working out, sipping on a cup of coffee, or even reading your daily dose of the news—whatever it takes to clear your mind. This will, in turn, help you have a clearer view of what you want, versus what you need to get done.
Create Your Task List
Once you have a semi clear vision about what to do, you can create your list of tasks. Better yet, rather than looking at them like tasks, you should simply see them as a group of essential duties.
I like to begin with separating this list of duties into short-term and long-term goals. This is ultimately the core of prioritizing. What should get done within the next few hours, days, weeks, and months?
When you have that figured out, you can assign a time frame to each individual priority, based on the estimated amount of time it’ll take to complete each. That will help you disperse the order of tasks throughout the day, which leads us to the process of categorizing.
Categorize Your List
It’s time to balance the areas of your personal and work life. But before doing so, select which ones you need to get done first and start segmenting your list accordingly.
Your daily list should include the amount of time to be spent on each priority. Consider additional commitments and make time for those disruptions.
For priorities of equal importance, your list can be randomly ordered based on the time you’ll be spending on each. That’s why it’s important to think about other urgent matters you’ll have to attend to.
Place Your List in an Easily Accessible Location
Even though you have your organized list ready, it doesn’t mean you’re totally done. This next step is perhaps even more important than organizing your entire list of due duties. Keep your list somewhere you can always see it or access it.
I always use different mediums to list my daily task. Sometimes, I simply resort to my online content management system or opt for the good old-fashioned pen and paper. For ongoing tasks, a bulletin board is a great place to scribble and make changes using a dry-erase board or the ever-so-handy post-its.
I also heavily rely on the use of post-its to keep track of delayed or urgent matters. Getting sidetracked is common so having them on-hand is a must! You can also use any tool you find serves as a good notice to begin a new task. If you need to, use timers and several reminder alarms.
When you’re using your computer for your list, it’s actually easier to just delete a completed task if you’re not going to refer back to it, rather than scratch it off on paper. Have the likes of both with tools like Microsoft’s increasingly popular digital notebook: OneNote. Whether you need to refer to e-mails, photos of documents, or keep certain webpages saved, OneNote will save them all for you in one place.
You can refer to the list you make when you’re at home, at the office, or just on the go. If you decide to go the paper route, just make a copy of the list for your home and keep it in a visible area there, too—yes, even if that’s the fridge.
Time to Start Working on Your List
Now that you have everything in order, it’s time to find your comfort zone. This will help you navigate from one task to another based on your comfort level. You should start with the easy tasks first—or you might even prefer getting the difficult ones out of the way—depending on how this correlates to where they stand on the priority list, of course.
So, when you’re selecting whether you’d like to start with an easy task versus a tough one, keep deadlines in mind. Get the sense of relief you need by taking frequent breaks in between completing each duty—or rather, every one hour, take a 15-minute break if you can for maximum efficiency. That will help you avoid burning out.
Lastly, learn when to delegate! Coming up with intriguing content to write sometimes doesn’t come as easy as counting—or you just might find that you don’t have the time to meet a deadline. That’s when you need to utilize all sources available to you.
In this case, you can ask another writer for help. If you decide to do that, be sure to create a new list inclusive of delegated tasks. Then, you can ultimately restructure your own list.
You’re Ready to Seize the Day!
Having everything laid out in front of you will motivate you to get things done and fast. It’ll give you the sense of urgency you need, while still giving you the window to breathe.
As you take on these new habits, you can even track the time you really spend on each task to refer to in the future. Prioritizing will become second nature to you in no time. So, get the pen and paper or online notepad ready and get to the listing.