How to Prioritize Your Day to Be Productive
Learn to prioritize your day at work to help you destress, accomplish more, and take needed breaks.
Stress is one feeling that is universal to most people on a daily basis. Whether these are home-life worries or financial anxieties, having a cluttered mind is the easiest way to exacerbate the feelings of stress.
And, since stress is an unproductive emotion, the effects of it can cripple one’s ability to improve the current situation. The best way to relieve stress, improve productivity, and feel achievement and success are to better prioritize your day.
Society lives in an on-the-go world, and for most people, there isn’t enough time in the day to accomplish all the pending tasks: work projects, children’s events and appointments, home maintenance and improvements, and quality time with family, just to name a few.
To create structure, you need to know exactly what is most important to you in life. If your highest priority is career advancement, the way you manage your time will be significantly different than someone who views family or recreation as the priority. First and foremost, find the priority that will help you achieve your ultimate goal, then base your daily priorities on that.
Of course, that doesn’t mean you can’t advance your career and experience a healthy and harmonious family life; however, it may influence your larger decisions – like taking a promotion that requires more time in the office or moving to a new location for a job opportunity. Finding your deepest priorities will show you which tasks get more precedence in your daily life.
One thing you should always prioritize on your to-do list is “don’t time” – time when you don’t do anything. You need to take rest breaks to destress your mind and your body, otherwise, the rest of your time will be much less productive. There are six kinds of breaks identified as helpful:
- Take a lunch break (Do as I say, not as I do!)
- Take snack breaks
- Take fitness breaks
- Take bathroom breaks
- Take stretching breaks
- Try to actually break long enough to get a full night’s sleep
Create Daily To-Do Lists Based on Your Priorities
Once you’ve thought your priorities through, it’s time to focus on how those integrate into your daily routine and make a realistic to-do list. If you have a board meeting at 2 p.m. and a parent-teacher conference at 2:30 p.m., putting both on your to-do list will make it rather unlikely that you’ll successfully complete your list.
Decorate your workplace with calendars and motivational posters to better keep yourself on track!
Execute Your List in Order
Start your list with the item that is the most important for that day. This could be a work project you must complete, an errand you have to run, or an event you need to attend. Doing this will help you make sure you accomplish that item during the day.
Your other tasks and events should follow in the order of most important to least important. Take note not to fill up your to-do list with “wishes.” If it is highly unlikely you’ll accomplish the task, place it on another list, a running supplementary list for when you accomplish your priority tasks.
Assign your best time to any creative thinking tasks. I get up at 4am and blast away at one task, giving it my all until it is done.
Not completing a task at one sitting is very inefficient because you have to tune in all over again when you come back to it a few days later.
Think One Project at a Time
While it may be unlikely in your field of work or your home life, it can help to work on one task at a time. Multitasking can help clutter up your mind, so following through on one project at a time will help you retain focus on your day’s priorities.
Prioritizing the day is an essential task, and a to-do list can make this easier to do. Using the aforementioned tips, you may reduce your stress and find yourself freeing up more of your most precious commodity – time.
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Anna Fox is the productivity blogger and professional writer.