How to Prioritize Tasks for a More Effective Leadership
Posted on September 26, 2018 by Danny Leffel
Understanding how to prioritize tasks is a key requirement for successful leadership, particularly within industries such as general retail, construction, and the restaurant business. Team management becomes much easier when you have a well-defined idea of the tasks you need to do each day and the best order in which to do them.
Ineffective task management often trickles down to your team members, which results in team communication issues, inefficiencies, and a daily battle to meet deadlines. Read on to find out how to prioritize tasks for a more effective leadership.
1. Write Down Your Daily Tasks
Effective task management begins with an action as straightforward as taking two minutes to write down your tasks for the day. It is not efficient to approach task prioritization as an activity you solely conduct mentally.
The physical act of writing things down is powerful because while doing it, your mind tends to intuitively recognize the most important, difficult, and urgent tasks for the day. You can then go further and whittle down this master list of tasks to the two or three most important issues—these are the tasks you can initially concentrate on completing.
2. Tackle Your Most Difficult Tasks First
The idea behind this task prioritization method is to avoid procrastination by tackling the most difficult issues and tasks first. When you sit down and think about all the things you need to do for the day, it’s tempting to put the most challenging tasks on the long finger.
However, those challenging tasks tend to lurk in the back of your mind even when you don’t prioritize them. The prospect of still having to confront your most difficult tasks can creep into your actions during the more straightforward tasks, and the entire day ends up feeling like an insurmountable mass of objects to overcome.
The beauty of prioritizing the most difficult tasks is that after you complete them, your workload for the rest of the day becomes less stressful because you’ve gotten the worst tasks out of the way.
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3. Delegate When Appropriate
Any good leader must understand the power and importance of delegation. Assigning a task to someone else doesn’t mean passing the buck of responsibility as a leader. The responsibility for the successful completion of delegated tasks remains with you. However, you’ve passed on the doing of the task in full recognition that it’s impossible for anyone to do it all on their own. Delegation means smart leadership, and it improves task management.
4. Use the Eisenhower Matrix
What better way to draw inspiration for prioritizing tasks than by using a method devised by none other than a former president of the United States: Dwight D. Eisenhower. The Eisenhower Matrix is a priority matrix that prioritizes tasks both by urgency and importance, which leads to four quadrants or categories into which tasks fit.
In essence, if a task is urgent and important, as a leader you need to get it done first. If something is important but not urgent, you pencil it into your schedule. Eisenhower advised delegating tasks that are urgent but less important. The last category identifies tasks that meet the criteria of being both non-urgent and unimportant — remove these tasks from your schedule and from your mind because you shouldn’t be doing them.
5. Leverage the Benefits of Mindfulness
Mindfulness is the practice of accepting the present moment and focusing awareness on it. Popularized in Western society by Jon Kabat-Zinn, mindfulness has applications in many areas, including leadership. The aim of mindfulness initially seems to conflict with one of the main roles of a leader, which is to look to the future and be prepared for the array of tasks that might arise during the course of a given workday.
However, mindfulness can complement your task prioritization capabilities by informing you of the times in which you feel most productive. By tuning into your feelings and perceptions as you engage in your work, you’ll come to realize that a large part of overcoming the challenge of how to prioritize tasks entails simply becoming aware of how you apply your energy at different times.
Aside from these methods for prioritizing tasks, you can use the power of technology to communicate task lists and team schedules to your workers. As a leader, it’s imperative to realize that ineffective task prioritization tends to affect all facets of your company, right down to how well your shift workers interact with customers. Remove barriers to communication between team leaders and employees by using a dedicated team scheduling and communication app such as CrewApp.