Learning to prioritize is a life long process and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise! There is always opportunities to learn and grow and to improve your prioritization skills to take control of the limited time in each day.
The first incredibly important area of prioritizing is learning to delegate.
It is SO easy to say “if you want something done right, do it yourself” but that is how you end up wasting your whole day doing tasks that someone else could be doing for you.
In order to prioritize what you really need to focus your time on you have to learn to give up certain tasks that are a) able to be delegated and b) lower importance.
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Let’s break this down into 4 areas: acceptance, acting, ownership, results
Acceptance – accepting that you can’t do it all
This is so crucial to accomplishing your goals, accepting that you really can’t do it all. Write your to list for the day and/or week (if you need a free to do list template then check this out). Then start evaluating what needs to get done first and then start to seriously consider if you can get it all done by yourself in the time frame you set.
Chances are you can’t which is where delegation comes in.
Delegating isn’t a sign of weakness. It is accepting that unfortunately there are only 24 hours in the day and there can just be too much for 1 person to accomplish that day.
Of course there are tasks that you should personally handle but there is also things you can delegate in order for you to focus on the more important tasks.
This is important for your work but also in your personal life.
Let’s say you really need to organize your mud room and get groceries on a Saturday morning. Order the groceries online (almost all major grocery stores offer this) and send your significant other to pick them up. That way you are delegating the groceries within reason and still giving yourself ample time to organize the mud room.
Acting- how to correctly delegate tasks
Delegating tasks can be tricky if you aren’t careful. You don’t want to find yourself in trouble for delegating a task you really should be doing yourself and you also want to make sure you are doing it correctly.
There are 2 key parts to this
1) delegate to the right person- make sure you are assigning tasks to a person that is able to handle them and has the time to do so themselves. If you overload an employee with delegation tasks there is a ton of issues that could end up happening. So keep the communication open and make sure to ask “if I give you XYZ to do for this project, do you have time to accomplish that today?”.
2) give them the tools to succeed- we have all been thrown into a task that *probably shouldn’t be ours* that we don’t have the right training and tools to succeed at. And it really sucks! So don’t’ delegate out a task without making sure they have what they need to successfully accomplish the task and the correct trainings.
Ownership- take ownership of the actions and decisions
If you are delegating a task to someone you are still ultimately responsible for the success. This could be in the form of a major project that your name is on at work or as simple as the cookies you need to bring in for your kids bake sales.
The best practice for ensuring that the work is acceptable is to always review things before the final submission.
That may seem counterproductive but if you review a project or taste the cookies before things get handed in you still saved yourself 90% of the time but also made sure you caught any huge errors before it is too late.
It’s so important to stay organized during this stage so make sure you have a solid organization system. Check out these two items that I love for staying organized:
Results- how delegating helps you prioritize and increase productivity
Results breaks down into 2 parts: how it worked and how to improve.
How it worked- if I were to bet, even if you just delegated 1 task you probably found yourself with a little more time in your day to accomplish what you should be focusing on. How awesome!
But make sure you stay on top of this because habits take over a month to form and the habits that surround prioritizing are so important for anyone trying to achieve their goals.
How to improve- congrats you delegated for a day, week, or even month! And it helped you focus on the more important tasks. However, like everything else in the world there is always room for improvement. So take just 15 minutes and look back at what you were delegating and how it worked out.
Taking a little bit to evaluate it will help you improve for moving forward. Maybe your intern was delegated filing new reports and they did it but they would have been 10x faster if you would have given them a cheat sheet of the folder system. Maybe you realized delegating groceries to your husband does not work out but delegating dishes totally does!
No matter what area of your life you are using delegation to help prioritize there is always room to learn from what you did and help maximize the time in your day.
More tips and tricks on productivity?
Keep an eye out for this whole collection of breaking down the art of prioritizing. Subscribe to get email updates to be the first to know when they get published!