Everyday work processes can become overwhelming even when you’re highly experienced at what you do. Managing your time effectively is easier said than done when you’re in a position that requires tight deadlines, especially when you’re juggling multiple urgent requests at a time.
If this sounds familiar, read on to discover work priority checklists and how they can help you tackle your workday.
What Is a Work Priority Checklist?
A work priority checklist is essentially a to-do list that lays out every task you need to complete during your workday in order of importance. This checklist type organizes your day so that the most urgent items are addressed first while less time-sensitive tasks are scheduled for later.
Why Create a Priority Checklist?
Plenty of working professionals deal with feeling like there isn’t enough time in the day to take care of every task ahead of them. With so much to do and so little time to do it, prioritizing becomes essential.
Creating a priority checklist that organizes your to-do list at work from the most urgent requests to the menial tasks can help employees manage their time more efficiently and get as much done as possible. Organizing daily or weekly tasks into a list can also help prevent putting too much time and effort into work that doesn’t have a tight deadline. This way, you won’t be scrambling at the last minute to submit something crucial before the end of the day.
Not only will organizing your tasks in a priority-based list help you stay organized at work, it will also make the process of delegating tasks, staying focused, and tracking your progress much easier.
How to Create a Work Priority Checklist: 7 Key Steps
If you want to take advantage of the many benefits that come from managing a work priority checklist, follow these steps to create your own list.
1. List all of your tasks
Write down each task you’re expected to complete at work. Focus on the day’s tasks for a daily priority list and plot out the entire week if you want a checklist that addresses everything you need to accomplish in a given week.
During this step, you don’t have to list your workflows in any particular order. Just be sure that you’ve remembered everything before moving on to the next step.
2. Establish Priority Levels
Create a list of priority levels for your tasks so that you can assign them to each thing you’re expected to accomplish. The following are good examples of priority levels:
Assign a priority level to each task you wrote down during the first step.
3. Delegate (if possible)
If you have tasks with Average or Menial priority levels, you might want to try clearing some or all of them from your agenda if possible. In some work environments, delegating tasks to your colleagues is an option. Assigning lower-priority tasks to coworkers who are available and willing to help can free up a great deal of your time.
4. Organize Remaining Tasks
Rearrange your remaining tasks in order of importance, listing the most urgent tasks first and following up with secondary, yet important tasks.
5. Create a Schedule
Create a schedule for yourself based on how long you assume each task is going to take. Don’t forget to give yourself enough time to take occasional breaks so that you don’t become fatigued or overwhelmed with work.
6. Accomplish Tasks Based on Importance
Start working on the urgent tasks on your checklist and check your time predictions on occasion. By keeping track of how much time it takes to complete each task, you can make more accurate estimates when creating future checklists.
7. Check or Strike Completed Tasks
Check off tasks as you complete them. Doing so helps with visualizing the progress you’re making and can make it easier to stay on task. When you’re aware of how much you’ve done and what you have left on your agenda, you’ll become more motivated to reach the finish line at the end of the day.
What to Include in a Priority Checklist
To create a realistic priority checklist, include everything that will take up at least a few minutes of your time throughout the day. Focus on tasks you need to complete rather than tasks that aren’t required (or even assigned in some cases).
You’ll also want to include categories to use in order to keep your checklist organized. For example:
- Task Name
- Brief Description
- Priority Level
- Time Allotted
- Due Date
Tips for Creating an Effective Work Priority Checklist
You can make your efforts at prioritizing work tasks more effective by trying the following tips.
- Use an app or a physical planner
- Separate your tasks and record non-work items in a different list
- Keep an eye on your due dates
- Review your task checklist every day
- Focus on tasks, not personal goals
Examples of a Work Priority Checklist
Let’s say you’ve arrived at work on a Monday morning and you have a plethora of voicemails and emails to respond to on top of the spreadsheets you have to make and documents you need to review throughout the day.
To create a to-do list based on the most urgent tasks, consider the context, due dates, and how long each task will take.
Your list might look something like this when you’re done:
- Return calls from Client W, X, Y, and Z (URGENT) 8:30 to 9:30 AM (1 hour)
- Complete Spreadsheet 1 (URGENT) 9:30 to 10:00 AM (30 minutes)
- Complete Spreadsheet 2 (IMPORTANT) 10:00 to 11:00 AM (1 hour)
- Reply to emails from Client D, E, F, G, and H (IMPORTANT) 11:00 to 12:00 PM (1 hour)
- Break Time 12:00 to 1:00 PM
- Review and Approve Documents 1, 2, 3, and 4 (IMPORTANT) 1:00 to 2:00 PM (1 hour)
- Draft Spreadsheet 3 (AVERAGE) 2:00 to 2:30 PM (30 minutes)
- Review Figures for Spreadsheet 4 (AVERAGE) 2:30 to 3:00 PM (30 minutes)
- Attend scheduled meeting (AVERAGE) 3:00 to 4:00 PM (1 hour)
- Draft new documents for Reason 4, 5, and 6 (MENIAL) 4:00 to 5:00 PM
Having a demanding work schedule doesn’t have to feel like you’re stepping into a hectic environment every day. If you prioritize your work tasks, delegate what you can, and manage your time in accordance with the length of your to-do list, you’ll be more capable of establishing a routine that doesn’t leave you exhausted.