Prioritizing your tasks is so vital. Whether you are trying to write your first novel or attempting to become a successful freelance writer, if you don't know how best to organize your time and how to ensure that your most important tasks are taken care of, you won't make the progress you'd hoped. Things will quickly get on top of you. This could lead to loss of motivation and loss of clients.
So what are some of the things you can do to help you prioritize your tasks? Here are some helpful tips.
Consolidating your tasks
Your to-do list should be comprehensive and thorough. It will be impossible to prioritize your tasks properly if you cannot fully understand everything you have to do. So that means finding a single source where you can input all your to-do's in one place. So if you have to do some banking, take the car for an MOT, write three chapters, make dinner and send out ten pitches – these should all be on your master list in a single document.
It doesn't matter what kind of program or piece of software you use, and there are plenty out there that come highly recommended and can help ensure you log every single task that comes in. If you prefer to do things the old fashioned way, a simple pen and paper can also do the trick!
Analyzing your tasks
Analyzing your tasks is how to understand how important each one is and your next step. Whether it's work-related or personal, you can decide to do one of four things with any job.
Do it – complete it immediately
Defer – complete it at a later date
Delegate – give it to someone else to take care of
Delete – remove it because it is no longer necessary
Go through each task on your list to decide where each one should sit, and then you'll have a better idea of what your more urgent tasks are. Delegating anything that you could get someone else to do will trim down your task list nicely. Deleting anything that's not important will also help you put things in perspective and also eliminate those things that are endlessly on your list but never actually get done. It's actually quite freeing to accept that you can't do everything and receives pressure from seeing it there on your to-do list every time you look at it.
Prioritizing your tasks can be done successfully through many different methods. Here are two of the most popular:
The Steven Covey priority matrix – this separates tasks into different quadrants to understand what's urgent and essential and what's not critical and what's not essential. Things that land in the not urgent and not important quadrant should always be dealt with last, if at all.
Relative prioritization – use a simple numbering system to help determine your most pressing task. You do this by weighing up each task against the other and bumping it up or down the list accordingly.
Have a separate daily priority list
As well as your master task list, you should create daily task lists to help make sure you are at your most productive each day. Schedule your tasks hour by hour, be realistic about how much you can get done, and give yourself time for breaks.
Analyze and adjust at the end of the day
At the end of each day, go back to your master task list, add any additional tasks that have come in, and eliminate those you have completed. Also, reorder if something is no longer as pressing a priority as it was – if you get an extension on a deadline, for example.
Organized writers tend to be more successful, so use the above tips to help keep your priorities in check, and you will feel more confident and productive as a result.
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