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8 Tips to Help You Prioritize Like the Pros

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1. Start each morning by planning the rest of the day. Assign a timeline to every activity, including phone calls, emails; even interruptions. Share your timeline with the appropriate team members.

2. Work backwards. Start with the deadline for any large project. Consult with your team to figure out—and then list—how much time will be needed for each project segment. Going forward, be sure to revise as needed.

3. Think about the consequences of a missed deadline. Different tasks carry different consequences. If you know there will be few problems should a specific project fall behind, put that project on the backburner.

4. Before every meeting or phone call, jot down what success should look like. (A sale concluded? A task successfully delegated? Management buy-in for a purchase?) Afterward, decide if you were successful. If not, think about changes that might assure a better outcome in the future.

5. Feel stuck? Check one or two small tasks off your list before you begin something bigger. That way, you’ll feel an immediate sense of accomplishment—and momentum.

6. Be ready to adapt. Change is inevitable; priorities shift; unexpected crises occur. You’ll need to be flexible and take changes in stride.

7. See challenges as opportunities. When an obstacle arises, meet with team members to find a solution. You may be surprised by an unexpected—even elegant—fix to the problem.

8. When necessary, ask for help. Have others pitch in, hire an outside service provider, and/or purchase a software program that can help streamline a project. If, despite everything, you’re still likely to miss a deadline, tell the boss. Confer about what you can do and by when.

See if these tips don’t help you prioritize better so that your projects move more smoothly and successfully!

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