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10 ways to… Prioritise your workload

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  • Publish date: 01 June 2011
  • Archived on: 01 June 2012

Working efficiently is important for any business but getting snowed under is a too-familiar situation. A well-structured workload is key to good time management and will increase your productivity.

Small Business Update

This update was published in Small Business Update 90 - June 2011

Small Business Update from Atom Content Marketing is a monthly magazine for people running their own business. Articles vary in length and cover 'hot topics', issues of importance, and current affairs.

Find out how to prioritise tasks.

  1. The to-do list. Don’t keep it on different post-it notes or in your head — at the beginning of each day or week, write on a sheet of paper what you want to get done and by when. Rank tasks according to importance or urgency to plan your day and focus your mind.
  2. Review your workload regularly. Is there one task that always ends up at the bottom of the pile? If you find you’re avoiding it, can somebody else do it? Consider delegating whole projects that you don’t need to be involved in or allocate a specific time when you only do your admin, for example.
  3. Remember the 80:20 rule of workloads. It’s very simple — 80 per cent of our work contributes to less than 20 per cent of its value. Concentrate on the most crucial 20 per cent of your workload, because performance would still be strong.
  4. Set realistic deadlines for your tasks. Look at your to-do list and estimate the time each task needs to be completed but don’t be overoptimistic. Be honest of what you can achieve in a working day or week so that you don’t feel overwhelmed from the start.
  5. Allow time for interruptions. If you need to finish a certain task at a certain time, only deal with urgent queries during this time. You can then quickly pick up again where you left off.
  6. Structure your workload. Avoid picking up a job, doing a bit and then putting it back on the pile. Deal with them one at a time and finish each one before starting another. Your mind will be clear and ready for the next one.
  7. Don’t let your inbox drive your workload. If you get 50 mails per day, this means 50 interruptions to your day. Don’t check your inbox every time a message arrives. Switch off instant alerts if necessary and allocate a time when you will check your inbox.
  8. Fun, fun, fun. Ticking items off your to-do list is great, but are you concentrating on the quick-and-easy ones? Tackling more challenging projects first might mean more time, but also that a major task is completed and a weight off your shoulders.
  9. Keep multitasking to a minimum. Starting a number of jobs simultaneously means most of them won’t get your undivided attention. Think of multitasking as dealing with more than one task during a day, not at the same time. That way you focus on the project in hand.
  10. Keep a log of your workload. If you’re unsure how long things take, how often your focus shifts or how many times you get interrupted, keep a log of your working week. This will help you plan your week in future.

Disclaimer: This article from Atom Content Marketing is for general guidance only, for businesses in the United Kingdom governed by the laws of England. Atom Content Marketing, expert contributors and ICAEW (as distributor) disclaim all liability for any errors or omissions.

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