Imagine a world in which time and resources are unlimited. You could pursue endless possibilities, tackle ambitious projects, drive innovation, and do it all stress-free. 🙌
Unfortunately, that’s not how things work. In a fast-paced business environment, you always deal with some kind of constraint. You must learn to prioritize work to thrive despite constant setbacks and obstacles.
This article aims to sum up the key information on priority management. You’ll learn how to develop an effective priority management process and use it to level up your productivity.
- What is Priority Management?
- Why is Priority Management Important?
- How to Implement a Priority Management System for Your Team
- How ClickUp Revolutionizes Priority Management
- Priority Management FAQs
What is Priority Management?
Priority management or prioritization is a method of organizing work to deal with the most important and urgent tasks first. 🥇
The practice involves assessing your goals and objectives, using that info to create a hierarchy of tasks, and deciding which ones should be completed immediately. It’s a skill that can be useful in both formal project management and everyday life.
When you prioritize projects and tasks, you’re preparing to execute the work ahead of you in the most efficient way. The goal is to meet your project milestones and deadlines and set yourself up for success. 🏆
Why is Priority Management Important?
Having a priority management process in place is how teams stay focused on old or new tasks, adjust resources, and identify top priorities across high-value projects. Other major benefits include:
- Makes the most of your day: Since you know exactly what you need to do each day, you can jump into work and specific tasks without hesitation to get the most out of your productive hours
- Improves the quality of work: Instead of trying to complete everything with scattered attention, your team focuses on a few critical tasks at a time, reducing errors and delays
- Ensures a better work-life balance: Prioritizing tasks affords your team more time for leisure and other personal pursuits
- Aligns personal, team, and business goals: It’s easy to overlook the bigger picture when you’re overwhelmed with your own priorities while you manage and align them to company objectives—a solid priority management process prevents those struggles
- Reduces work-related stress and anxiety: Meaningful assignment of work allows your employees to tackle their assignments with more confidence and less pressure
- Facilitates flexibility: With a proper prioritization system, you can adapt to ongoing changes without getting derailed
- Allows for effective resource management: Knowing what takes precedence enables you to allocate limited resources more efficiently when delegating tasks across your team
How to Implement a Priority Management System for Your Team
Follow these six tips to create and launch a successful priorities management strategy:
- Define the goals: They serve as your main prioritization criteria. Determine short, mid, and long-term goals and objectives so you can craft detailed plans to achieve them all
- Start with an overview: Create a master to-do list of tasks. As you evaluate and assign them, break your to-do lists down into monthly, weekly, and daily priorities
- Evaluate the cost/effort and reward: Compare the cost or effort needed to complete tasks with the value they bring. If possible, follow the Pareto rule—prioritize the 20% of work that leads to an 80% impact
- Consider team capacity and strengths: To assign work realistically, you need to identify each team member’s capacity, productivity habits, task difficulty, and risk levels to efficiently manage objectives
- Delegate tasks: Reserve critical and complex tasks for the higher-ups, but don’t put too much on their shoulders. Assign less impactful work to employees with less experience and allow them to develop their skills, grow, and have a chance to succeed at something new
- Be flexible: You can’t create a task hierarchy and call it a day. You should organize, evaluate, and prepare to adapt to ongoing changes in your process
Doing all this work manually would be excruciating. Luckily, apps like ClickUp help you prioritize tasks and develop a robust and flexible priority management system.
How ClickUp Revolutionizes Priority Management
ClickUp is an all-in-one project management software that allows you to tackle all aspects of task prioritization—from initial brainstorming to execution. With over 10 outlines (Views) and hundreds of features and customization options, you can adapt it to various contexts.
In the following section, we’ll show you what makes ClickUp an excellent work prioritization tool and how to unlock its potential step-by-step. 🔓
1. Set and visualize high-level goals
Before dealing with individual tasks, take a step back and remember the bigger picture. That will help you stay on track toward your most important goals. 🛣️
With the higher goal in mind, reevaluate the relevance and impact of each task. That way, you can ensure you’re investing your time and energy in activities that align with your long-term strategy.
Use ClickUp to develop and visualize strategies, roadmaps, and workflows. The platform’s Whiteboard View provides a blank canvas and various tools to bring your ideas to life. You can start from scratch or use one of many pre-built Whiteboard templates.
In Whiteboard View, you can:
- Create workflows to identify any dependency issues or bottlenecks
- Write and edit text or assign comments or tasks
- Add shapes, sticky notes, and connectors between them
- Embed images, videos, website cards, and Docs
ClickUp also features Mind Map View, which lets you create eye-catching hierarchical diagrams. Use it to define different levels of priorities and relationships between tasks.
Choose between node-based and task-based maps with interactive tasks instead of nodes.
2. Create a master list of all tasks
Compile a master list of tasks to understand the scope of work you’re dealing with. Next, start breaking it into more manageable sections, each with defined deadlines.
ClickUp’s List View is the ideal tool for that. It gives you a rundown of all tasks, subtasks, and their dependencies. Rearranging them is easy with the drag-and-drop functionality. 👆
The lists’ columns display all the information you need to decide on a task’s importance. You can customize them, choosing between over 20 field types, including:
- Progress bar
It’s ClickUp’s most flexible view, allowing you to play around with different organization options. Once you’ve finished sorting tasks, group or filter them by priority to single out the most urgent ones.
You can use the Agile Board view for a more simplified presentation of all tasks. This helps you get your priorities management process in place with a clear Board view.
In most ClickUp views, you can click on a task to open the Task Tray, which reveals additional information and options. You and your team can, among other activities, add comments, attach files, and view the change log.
The Gantt and Timeline views allow you to focus on time management. Timeline gives you a bird’s eye view of the schedule on a single line, whereas the Gantt chart is two-dimensional and lets you get into the nitty-gritty of projects.
The Calendar View makes scheduling events such as sprints and one-on-one meetings a breeze. You only need to drag and drop tasks into their respective slots, and you’re good to go.
3. Evaluate and assign tasks
After considering the tasks’ urgency, impact, or any other relevant factor, you can add the information to List View’s columns. Rank tasks, introduce a scoring system with formulas, and calculate the costs.
To assign a priority tag to a task, click on the flag icon and choose the appropriate option from the dropdown menu. The labels range from Low to Urgent and are color-coded for easier distinction.
Once you’ve decided which tasks should go first, it’s time to delegate them. Do so with ease and accuracy using the ClickUp Workload View!
Estimate the level of effort needed to complete a task. Define and view the average capacity of each team member to ensure they always have something to work on but aren’t overworked. By looking at the colors, you’ll get insight into how much work each person’s got on their plate. 🍽️
Once you assign the task, it’ll be evenly distributed across the dedicated timeline based on its previously set due date.
The view is highly customizable. You can change anything from the filters and the displayed timeline (day, week, month) to individual elements and coloring.
4. Track progress and collaborate
As you complete your tasks, the progress bar in List View will update to give you real-time insights. You can change the task’s status and add custom categories to reflect your workflow.
By introducing automation, you can streamline the entire process. For instance, you can automatically update the status to “Done” after completing all the subtasks. Another idea is to change the priority label when a task is overdue.
In ClickUp, you can do much more than prioritize. Invite your team to join and use the platform as your planning and collaboration hub.
Communicate with teammates via built-in chat, discuss specific matters in task comments, and view the history of changes for each task. You and your team can also track time in-app, which helps with task allocation and billing immensely.
Priority Management FAQs
Still have questions about prioritization? You might find your answers below:
What’s the difference between priority management and time management?
Time management and priority management are related concepts with the same goal—making your work more efficient. Still, while prioritization focuses on what’s important, time management is a broader term referring to how you spend your available time. ⌛
For example, someone managing their time will allocate time slots to their tasks. But, someone who’s prioritizing will select the most significant tasks and assign them larger time slots.
Priority management leans on time management. They both require skills such as problem-solving and strategic thinking. Time management includes other subskills, such as distraction reduction and task categorization.
Both skills are useful and applicable to many spheres of life. Time management might be more common, but prioritization is the better choice for output-based work.
What are some of the most popular prioritization techniques?
When managing priorities, use different evaluation criteria and techniques to see what works for your team. Read about the most popular prioritization strategies below:
The master list is not so much an independent prioritization technique but rather the basis for all others. Before prioritizing, create a mega to-do list with all the tasks you want to achieve. You can then break it down and categorize it as you please.
A common method is to use time period categories. For instance, you can group the tasks based on when you want to complete them—today, this week, this month, etc.
Eisenhower prioritization matrix
Although he didn’t invent it, this method was named after former U.S. President Dwight E. Eisenhower, as he had to make many high-impact decisions on a daily basis.
The Eisenhower prioritization matrix compares the cost or effort that goes into a task with the value it brings.
To apply this method, draw a big square on paper or in an app of your choice. Divide it into four parts along two axes—Urgency and Importance. You’ll end up with four categories:
- Urgent and important: Do it ❗
- Urgent and not important: Schedule it 📅
- Not urgent but important: Delegate it 👥
- Not urgent and not important: Delete it ❌
Place tasks into the most appropriate categories and start completing them, beginning with the urgent and important ones in the upper-right corner.
Don’t feel like drawing? Use the colorful ClickUp Priority Matrix Template and start prioritizing in minutes for free!
Most Important Tasks (MIT) list
If you’re looking for a method that’s simple, practical, and easy to implement, try the MIT list. It suggests listing one to three essential tasks every day. You shouldn’t focus on any other tasks until you’ve completed the ones from the list.
When you find yourself overwhelmed with work, this method helps you return to the basics and get out of the rut.
The ABCDE prioritization method requires you to sort tasks into five categories:
- Essential tasks
- Important tasks
- Nice-to-do tasks
- Tasks to delegate
- Tasks to eliminate
Evaluate and classify tasks based on how severe the consequences of not completing them would be. Keep the A list short, with only one or two tasks in it.
Introduce another layer of ranking by enumerating each of the tasks. The most important task of the day will be labeled A1, whereas nice-to-do tasks will be marked as C1, C2, C3, and so on.
Eat the frog
This method was inspired by a clever Mark Twain quote: “If you have to eat a live frog, it does not pay to sit and look at it for a very long time!” 🐸
It suggests that you should do the most dreaded tasks first, making all the others less intimidating. It’s useful for those situations when you have multiple tasks of similar urgency and importance and don’t know which one to start with.
According to this method, your daily to-do list should contain:
- One big task 🐘
- Three medium tasks 🐅
- Five minor tasks 🐁
Feel free to alter the numbers based on your current capacity and preference.
The Warren Buffet Method
“The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.”
These are the words of the supersuccessful Warren Buffett, who came up with a prioritization model called the Two Lists.
This method requires you to write down your top 25 list of tasks and circle the 5 most important ones. You should complete the top 5 first and, more importantly, ignore the other 20 tasks to preserve your focus.
What are some common priority management challenges, and how can I overcome them?
Despite your best efforts, project execution likely won’t go as smoothly as you wish. Still, all is not lost. With the right approach and tools, you can conquer most challenges and get back on track quickly.
Below, you can familiarize yourself with some common prioritization problems and the methods for resolving them:
Unprecedented situations and changing priorities
Firstly, you should accept that plans will inevitably change and prepare to adapt once that happens.
Instead of planning only for the best-case scenario, you should consider all possible outcomes. Avoid setting strict deadlines and provide loose time estimates instead, leaving some wiggle room.
Limited and competing resources
In light of priority changes, you might need to revisit your resource management choices. If you run into conflicts, reassess the prioritization criteria. Analyze tasks in-depth and introduce additional factors to further differentiate tasks with the same level of importance.
You may even need to rethink your entire prioritization system to make it more flexible. Ideally, you should use an app like ClickUp, which updates other tasks and deadlines when you make a change.
Teammates wasting time on non-essential tasks
Many problems can be ironed out with regular and honest communication. Set clear expectations and goals from the start and ensure everybody’s on the same page.
Support your teammates and employees when they encounter an issue, especially when it’s outside their field of expertise or responsibility.
Distraction, procrastination, and delays
Let’s be honest—nobody is 100% productive all the time. Still, if you notice that one of the employees is consistently struggling to keep up, it may be time to act on it.
Instead of pushing or punishing them, offer help. Provide them with resources and training to encourage the development of their individual time management skills.
Switching between different tasks
Simultaneously working on multiple tasks with different requirements can be problematic. It’s stressful, exhausting, and often results in errors and overall subpar quality of work.
Instead of bombarding employees with various tasks, limit their work to one project at a time. Set task dependencies and critical paths to ensure focused work and smooth sailing. ⛵
Overworking and burnout
If you’re an employee and feel overwhelmed with work, don’t hesitate to say no. Ignoring the warning signs of burnout can have severe consequences. Before things get out of hand, communicate your availability and maximum daily workload to higher-ups so they can plan accordingly.
With a more realistic workload, you’ll be able to focus on quality rather than quantity. You’ll also enjoy a more sustainable work schedule, protect your well-being, and contribute to a healthier workplace culture. 💪
Unleash Your Potential With Priorities Management and ClickUp
Priorities management is far from easy, but it is the secret to success, no matter if you’re organizing personal or your team’s work. It can give you direction when you’re feeling lost among the winding roads of tasks.
With a handy tool like ClickUp, you can hack your way to productivity in no time! ⏩