All in Balance: Prioritizing Your Workplace Responsibilities

All in Balance: Prioritizing Your Workplace Responsibilities
  • Opening Intro -

    So many priorities, so little time. At least it can seem that way when you set out to begin your day at work.

    Prioritizing is of extreme importance as some tasks require your immediate attention while others can be put off for the day.


Still, if you do not set your priorities, you may miss meeting an important deadline, putting your company in an awkward spot and perhaps threatening your career.

Allocating Your Response

Emergency workers provide perhaps the best example of prioritizing. In a crisis, they simply have to.

When a catastrophe hits, emergency workers must triage — prioritize their responses by allocating resources where they can best be used. Sometimes that means leaving the patient that is too far gone and helping the person who still has a fighting chance.

As an employee, you can allocate your priorities as follows:

1. Do this now. The most urgent tasks are those that you must address immediately. Typically, it is the project your boss assigns to you and tells you to stay on it until it is done.

2. Do this next. Once the most urgent task has been accomplished, you’ll begin to handle important tasks that may need to be finished next or that long-term project that requires your constant updating.

3. Keep this one within range. Some projects have a sense of urgency, but do not need to be completed on the same day. For instance, if you manage payroll and it is a Monday, your deadline might be on a Friday. Still, you will need to do some updating as you go along, something you can handle by setting aside time before leaving for the day.

4. Later, if ever. Every employee has work that does not need to be done immediately, if ever. Those files of documents that eventually need to be put in archives are a low priority. In fact, you may be able to save the job until a temporary worker or a college intern comes onboard. It is the kind of task you gratefully assign to someone else to carry out.

Multi-tasking Responsibilities

Handling various assignments at once can be extremely difficult to pull off. However, you may have no choice as your boss wants you to pull a customer’s records now while you’re looking at an 11 a.m. deadline for meeting with Human Resources. Your final payroll update is due by 3 p.m. so that I.T. can run off its report.

With so much to do and little time to get everything done, delegation is essential. You may not be able to hand off the entire project, but having another employee help out with certain aspects such as making phone calls, gathering data and running reports can help out. You may also be able to handle each responsibility concurrently, by spending small blocks of time on each project before going on to the next one and subsequent tasks. Repeat the process again and you’ll chip away at your workload until you successfully accomplish your goals.

See AlsoHow Small Businesses Can Identify and Build a Brand


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About Author

Matthew C. Keegan

Matt Keegan is a freelance writer and editor as well as publisher of "Matt's Musings", his personal blog. Matt covers campus, consumer, business and financial topics on various websites and blogs, and has been published in the "Houston Chronicle", "Sam's Club Magazine" and "Wisconsin Golfer".