By: K.J. McCorry, Productivity Consultant and Author of Organize Your Work Day in No Time

It is very stressful and overwhelming trying to remember all the actions and tasks one needs to take on a daily or weekly basis. Having a sound system to manage and organize tasks is essential to effective time management practices.

Nicholas Carr, author of The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains, explains why the human brain struggles to process information that is presented “with the intensity and the quantity and the speed we find ourselves surrounded by today.” Carr explains that our working memory – everything comprising the consciousness at a given moment – can only hold between two and four items at a time. Hence we need a clear, reliable way to keep track of all the things we need to do!

The key to managing priorities effectively is to have a method and system to track activities where you can easily identify priorities. Electronic task systems, like Outlook or Gmail, provide a way to track date, context and who the task was delegated from and therefore help you manage, track, sort and plan around priorities.

With so many things to do everyday, knowing what to do first and/or is most important can seem daunting and overwhelming. Being able to manage priorities increases productivity and is the sign of successful organization skills.

The following steps provide a framework of how to manage and tackle priorities.

Step 1: Use One Task System: It is important to have one master location to track tasks. Having multiple lists and/or scattered bits of paper and Post-it notes, makes it difficult to plan your day and keep on track. Productivity applications, such as Outlook or Gmail have separate Task/ To Do functions which track your action items by date and on your calendar.

Step 2: Identify the Priorities: Set aside 30 minutes a week to identify your priorities from your master task list. Also, review your email, calendar, task list, meeting notes and paper items for those activities that have a due date in the next week. Once you have identified all the activities, now determine which items are crucial to get done first based on type of activity and who delegated it to you. Being clear about what you need to take action on and your current workload provides you the information on how to prioritize those crucial activities.

Step 3: Plan Time in Your Calendar: Then, determine how much time each of these activities will take to complete. Review your calendar and determine which day and time you can get these crucial and high priority items completed. Most individuals find the morning time a good time to complete priorities when you are fresh and have high energy.

Step 4: Get Focused: Once you have the time allocated and know the priorities you need to complete, then it is important to create a focused and non-distractive environment. Set the stage to reduce interruptions and distractions such as; close your office door, let your colleagues know you are busy, or close your email program. Set yourself up for success by creating an effective environment to get the priority actions done as efficiently as possible.

In today’s world, it is impossible to get all the actions you want to do done in a single day. There will always be something that needs to be left behind. The key is to focus on ‘what is next’ and use your task list to help you prioritize and focus.

For more information about Getting Tasks Done, join us for a free webinar on May 1, 2018 at  10:00 PST/11:00 MST/12:00 CST/ 1:00 EST hosted by our national recognized author and expert, K.J. McCorry, or contact Wally Welgraven at or 507-227-5111 regarding this webinar or any of CI’s offerings.