Best 6 Steps To Prioritize Competing Project Deadlines

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Best 6 Steps To Prioritize Competing Project Deadlines

Here are 6 steps to prioritizing projects that have a lot of moving parts.

1. Collect a list of all your tasks.

Pull together everything you could possibly consider getting done in a day. Don’t worry about the order or the number of items upfront.

2. Identify urgent vs. important.

The next step is to see if you have any tasks that need immediate attention. We’re talking about work that, if not completed by the end of the day or in the next several hours, will have serious negative consequences (missed client deadlines, missed publication or release deadlines, etc.). Check to see if there are any high-priority dependencies that rely on you finishing up a piece of work now.

3. Assess value.

Next, look at your important work and identify what carries the highest value to your business and organization. As a general practice, you want to recognize exactly which types of tasks have top priority over others.

For example, focus on client projects before internal work; set up the new CEO’s computer before re-configuring the database; answer support tickets before writing training materials; and so on. Analyzing the number of individuals impacted by your work is another method of calculating value. In general, the more people involved or impacted, the higher the stakes.

4. Order tasks by estimated effort.

If you have tasks that seem to tie for priority standing, check their estimates and start with whichever one you think will take the most effort to complete. Productivity experts suggest the tactic of starting the longer task first. But if you feel like you can’t focus on your heavier projects before you finish up the shorter task, then go with your gut and do that. It can be motivating to check a small task off the list before diving into deeper waters.

5. Be flexible and adaptable.

Uncertainty and change are given. Know that your priorities will change, and often when you least expect them to. But—and here’s the trick—you also want to stay focused on the tasks you’re committed to completing.

6. Know when to cut.

You probably can’t get to everything on your list. After you prioritize your tasks and look at your estimates, cut the remaining tasks from your list, and focus on the priorities that you know you must and can complete for the day. Then take a deep breath, dive in and be ready for anything.

Sahana Posted new comment May 9, 2024

“I love the tip about tackling high-effort tasks first! It helps me conquer procrastination and feel accomplished early on.”


Hi Arshana,

Thank you for sharing these steps to prioritize projects with several Steps. They seem straightforward and practical. I’ll definitely keep them in mind for managing my tasks effectively.

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