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How to Get More Done When Everything Is Urgent

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Prioritization

  • Know exactly what you need to do. Make a list of every last thing on your plate, with a deadline for each task. 
  • Then, assess task value by answering the following questions.
    • Who is the project for? The CEO? Your direct boss? A client? If so, it’s more important than that report for the finance department.
    • How many people are affected by the project? The entire organization? Just your seven-person department?  There’s your answer.
    • What are the benefits of each task or project? Will it generate income or save the organization time and/or money?  You may need to ask the boss for further clarity here. 
  • Have two tasks that are equally urgent? Tackle the one that will take the least amount of time before turning to the next assignment.  

  • Divide each task into smaller pieces, to make it easier to accomplish. Start with the most straightforward piece first—to give yourself a sense of both satisfaction and of forward movement. 

Working More Efficiently

  • Review your instructions from the boss before starting work. Continue to communicate with him/her to ensure that you’re on track. Bring up problems or questions as they arise.  

  • When you start work, ask the boss, coworkers and clients to send you concise emails that specify action items, so you can be crystal clear about what it is you need to do. 

  • Schedule important work for when your energy is at its peak, be it morning or afternoon. You’ll work faster and more effectively. Minimize interruptions by scheduling as many calls as possible with co-workers and clients.

  • Be prepared to “swerve.” All projects involve unavoidable bumps in the road. When they occur, don’t get mad, get moving—and change priorities as needed.

  • When possible, work on similar types of projects at the same time. For example, handle your manager’s budget and the departmental budget in tandem.

  • Minimize interruptions by scheduling as many calls as possible with co-workers and clients.

  • Finally, take breaks. Don’t work for more than an hour without getting up, walking around, and allowing yourself to feel refreshed before returning to the task at hand.

American Society of Administrative Professionals

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