How Clear Are Your Priorities?

September 23, 2016
Christopher Burton, MD

Everyone has priorities during the day. You usually sort the tasks that you are going to be doing by their priority, but how exactly do you determine that? Sometimes it can be difficult to decide what tasks need to be handled first and so on. Here are some tips to help you to start determining how to set your priorities in the best order possible.

Everyone has priorities during the day. You usually sort the tasks that you are going to be doing by their priority, but how exactly do you determine that? Sometimes it can be difficult to decide what tasks need to be handled first and so on. Here are some tips to help you to start determining how to set your priorities in the best order possible.

Think of the End Results

One of the easiest ways to determine the priorities of your tasks is to think about what the end result would be if you did or didn’t finish each one. If the consequences are pretty dire if you don’t complete the task, then this is something that needs to have the highest priority in your to-do tasks. It may be harder to separate your important and nice-to-get-done tasks in a day, but again, thinking about the end results can help you to find the right priority list of what needs to be done. Your important tasks might not be as dire as the real emergencies at the very top of the list, but they often have a more important result than those that would just be nice to check off.

Re-Evaluate Your Goals

You may realize as you go to assign priorities that you’re not completely sure anymore what the end results actually would be if you did or didn’t finish something. For instance, you may have tasks that are more geared towards moving you into having your own practice someday, or moving up the ladder in the health care facility you work at currently. What happens if you find that the goals you had set prior have either been accomplished or changed? You may be assigning a higher priority to tasks that no longer fit your needs for the current goals that you have, so it may be a good idea to sit down regularly to re-evaluate your personal and professional goals. This can certainly help you when it comes time to evaluate how dire the circumstances will be if you neglect to finish a particular task.

Tasks On Your To-Do List That Shouldn’t Be

Sometimes you may find that you take on too many tasks in a day, and recognizing this now can help you do something about it. You must learn how to determine which tasks you can take off your to-do list by delegating the responsibility to someone else. If you’re the type of person that likes to handle everything for yourself or have a hard time even thinking about allowing someone else to do a task you’ve assigned yourself, this can be difficult. When going over your priority list, think about what tasks you can allow a nurse, medical assistant or other staff member to handle. Each task you delegate to the right person is another task marked off of your to-do list.

Also, if you consistently take on more than you can comfortably do, then you need to learn how to say no. Others will not realize how many plates you have spinning if you don’t tell them. It can take some practice to finally start saying no for those individuals with chronic yes syndrome, but eventually, you’ll be able to determine which tasks you truly want to say yes to and which you should decline.

You know you have priorities in your life, but how clear are they to you at this very moment? Taking the time to determine the end results of completing or not completing a task is one of the best ways to sort among the priorities that you have in a day. Your career and personal goals can play a role in your daily priorities, so you should evaluate them to determine if you are hitting the targets you need to be to achieve them. Plus, you can clear up a lot of time by eliminating those tasks that you can by either delegating them or declining them. Take control of your priorities and your life today.