There’s an art to getting things done without creating a stressful environment. When you find yourself with too many things to do and not enough time to do them, stress rises. And at times, panic can set in. Instead of trying to schedule it all in, take some time to identify your priorities. Then, focus your energies on what matters most. By modifying the amount and type of things you do, you experience more pleasure in your work, less stress, and more personal satisfaction. Prioritizing effectively is imperative to growth – for organizations and for individual development. When you prioritize, you eliminate the stress that comes from being disorganized and overwhelmed and you move forward in the direction you want to go in your life and with your career.

There are times when you are so busy that you don’t want to take the time to plan. Busy does not mean productive. You can be busy doing the wrong things and never get closer to your goal.

Setting priorities is critical to success. When you prioritize, you ask the questions about the importance of the tasks. Taking the time to consider your priorities takes only a few minutes; it makes a world of difference. It allows you to organize your thoughts and to manage your life and your work with intention and purpose. This means you get more done in less time and you feel good because you’re in control. When you feel as though you’re in control, you experience more peace and you’re able to focus with greater intensity.

Here are 10 Steps to Prioritizing.

1. First, list all of the things you need to accomplish. Use a small notebook or a daily planner and write down all of the things that are on your plate.

2. Eliminate any wants. If the item is not something that is absolutely necessary but you’d really like to do it, place it at the bottom of the list. If it’s something that is nice to do rather than something you need to do, you can do it if you have time or you can make it more of a priority. Choose to place yourself at the top of the priority list. Eating healthy, exercising regularly and taking time to reflect are not items that can be neglected. Just as your car will not run well without regular maintenance, neither will your body.

3. Eliminate anything that is not something that you, yourself must do. If there’s an item that is someone else’s responsibility – or could be, get it off your plate and onto theirs! Identify anything that you can delegate and delegate it. Do not accept responsibility for completing other people’s work. If you are busy doing work that other people should be doing, you may become resentful. This causes unnecessary stress. Empower others by letting them accept responsibility for their own work. You give others permission to stretch themselves and their capabilities by allowing them to do for themselves.

4. Is there any item that someone can share responsibility for? Sometimes tasks can be broken down into parts and certain parts can be delegated. Be willing to share the burden. It is okay to ask for assistance; that’s how you cultivate relationships and build teamwork within a company.

5. Identify deadlines for each item. This is critical. Is there anything that shortens the deadline? Consider whether there is something on the list that must be completed before something else. Is your deadline dependent upon another person’ work? Does someone need your work completed before the deadline so they can check it, approve it or add to it?

6. Estimate the time it will take for you to accomplish each task.

7. Get started. Do what is in front of you. Once you identify your priorities, it’s easier to make decisions that affect your time. Knowing what is most important to you allows you to devote your energy on your priorities.

8. Focus. Focus your energies on the task at hand and do nothing else. It’s amazing how productive you can be when you capture the power of focus.

9. Eliminate any interruptions or distractions that might impede your flow. This means coworkers, phone calls, e-mails, etc. Everything takes a back seat to what you’ve identified as most important. Don’t be afraid to tell someone that you won’t get to something today. If things crop up during the course of the day, take a moment to add them to your priority list by putting them through this checklist. Is it critical? Can it be delegated? What is the deadline? How long will it take to complete?

10. Learn to under-promise and over-deliver. Give yourself extra time when asked for a deadline. If you think something will take three days, tell them you need five. Then, deliver it in three and they will think the world of you.

You are in charge of your time. Use it wisely. Prioritizing is an art and you become better with practice. The power is yours.

Author's Bio: 

Julie Fuimano, MBA, BSN, RN is a Success Coach and co-founder of Nurturing Your Success, Inc. Her passion is coaching clients on leadership and career development, communication, team building, marketing and branding. You may visit Julie at or write to her at You may also call her directly at (484) 530-5024.