How to Determine Workplace Priorities

Setting priorities helps you to keep from being overwhelmed by mountains of work.

Setting priorities helps you to keep from being overwhelmed by mountains of work.

Figuring out where to start on that pile in your in-box isn't really that tough if you focus on a few primary concepts: Which things have the most impact, which contribute most toward the company's bottom line and which correlate most closely with your boss's priorities. If you spend the whole day working on tasks that have very little to do with those three emphases, you might need to re-evaluate your priorities. And, if you're spending most of your time on tasks that aren't part of your job description, talk to your boss to get clarification of what he really wants you to be doing.

Talk to your boss within the first few days of starting your new job to find out what his priorities are; then, make his priorities your priorities. This applies both to obvious things such as the point project for the company's biggest client and to non-tangible areas such as the type of image he wants company employees to project.

Compare your boss's stated priorities with your performance plan to determine what your priorities need to be for overall work performance. Give high priority to the tasks in your performance plan that directly support the boss's top priorities. Another priority area should be those tasks and assignments that feed into group projects, so co-workers learn they can count on you and you develop a reputation as a reliable team player.

Avoid the first-in, first-out approach to scheduling your work. This can take your attention and energy away from important tasks, particularly those that are time-sensitive. Set your daily priorities based on when projects are due, how long they will take to complete and what else you have going on that will take time away from working on them, such as meetings or training classes.

 

About the Author

As a national security analyst for the U.S. government, Molly Thompson wrote extensively for classified USG publications. Thompson established and runs a strategic analysis company, is a professional genealogist and participates in numerous community organizations.Thompson holds degrees from Wellesley and Georgetown in psychology, political science and international relations.

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