Spotlight: Plan, organize, and prioritize your work for success

Do you struggle with completing your work goals and projects because you have multiple goals and priorities staring you in the face? French writer, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry said, “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” Thoughtful planning, organizing, and prioritizing are keys to your success in reaching your work goals!

How do I start planning?
Planning can be defined as the ability to “think about the future” or mentally anticipate the right way to carry-out a task or reach a specific goal. When you have a “to do list” a mile long lingering in your head, it can be difficult to know where to start. This is where planning is the first step to being successful. In David Allen’s book, “Getting Things Done” he states, “Your mind is for having ideas, not holding them.” Therefore, you need get your list out of your head and onto something that captures your thoughts for you. This could be on paper, on your computer, on your phone, or on sticky notes, whatever works for you. Do a complete brain dump of everything you need to accomplish in a short period of time, or over an extended period. Keep it in an easily accessible place and be sure there is a system for reminders. Now that you have your list, let’s start to organize.

Where do I begin to organize what I need to get done?
The first thing you need to do is to decide is if the task is actionable. If so, what is the first step and subsequent steps that need to be taken? This helps you determine the time it will take to complete the task. If there are tasks that take a minimal amount of time, you should get them done immediately! For tasks that may take more of your time, can you delegate them to someone else and follow up with the person until completed? Can the task be put off to a later date for you to address? Either way, having your list organized, and frequently reviewing it is essential. Time management is one of the most important skills to apply in the workplace to complete your tasks. Once you have organized your work, now you need to prioritize it.

Why do I need to prioritize my work?

When you are assigned a work task, you have a commitment to complete that assignment in a timely manner. It will be important to focus on critical work first. If you have difficulty prioritizing your work, ask for help. Meeting a deadline means that you could be viewed as a productive worker, which can have a positive impact on your department or the University.

4 Tips to Remember:

  • Set aside time to plan when you are in a calm and thoughtful mindset.
  • Break larger projects and tasks into smaller pieces with a goal in mind.
  • Schedule uninterrupted time in your calendar to work on the task or project and protect that time!
  • Minimize distractions.
  • Reflect on your chosen system for tracking, and make adjustments as needed.

For additional tips, read the article “How to Prioritize, Organize, and Plan Your Work,” written by Alan Carniol, blogger for “Interview Success Formula.” Be sure to watch the LinkedIn video “Getting Things Done,” which is based on the book by David Allen. ©2001, 2005