How to Prioritize Tasks


The late Jim Rohn once said, “If it’s a priority, you’ll find a way; if it isn’t, you’ll find an excuse.”

Sometimes, we can’t decipher priorities from desires. All we know is that there’s so much to do, and too little time to do it all. And that’s because life is busy. We have some form of school or work that eats up the majority of our day, and we still have to fit in time to eat and sleep. 

Our day consists of 24 hours. If we give ourselves 8 hours of sleep, we only have 16 hours to get stuff done. 

So how do we determine what to get done? And when?

To answer these questions, here are seven easy steps to help you prioritize your tasks and get as much done as possible. Therefore, you can spend the remainder of your time doing leisurely activities or resting.


  1. Choose a Calendar

Calendars can be either physical or digital or both. Having a calendar helps you visualize what your schedule looks like. It also takes away the need to “remember” something. Plus, having a calendar keeps you accountable, as the calendar will remind you of the tasks you need to accomplish. You can easily use the calendar app in our phone; a digital, downloadable calendar for your iPad; or a physical one.

  1. Mark Deadlines

Whichever form you choose to use as your personal or professional calendar, mark down deadlines for each task you are responsible for. Doing this will allow you to see how much time you have to complete each task, as well as which ones have the closest deadlines so you can focus on those tasks more.

  1. Make a To-Do List

Now that you know how much time you have before meeting a deadline, look at your schedule on a day-to-day basis. Within the day make a to-do list with tasks you need to complete, including those with very important and close deadlines. (Use this planner to create your list.)

  1. Identify More Urgent Tasks

As you make your daily list, identify which tasks are more urgent. These are the tasks with a closer deadline, meaning higher priority. Star or highlight these tasks so they stick out when you look at your daily schedule.

  1. Start with Harder/Longer Tasks First

Once you’ve noted the urgent tasks, start with the one that takes the most time. Remember, you only have a certain amount of time in your day to get things done. Plus, you have more energy earlier in the day, so spend this time tackling the harder and/or longer tasks first. (Note: you do not need to complete a specific task in one day, but you do want to get it closer to completion.) You may find that, afterwards, this task was not as hard nor time-consuming as you originally thought. And you can now focus on the easier, fun tasks.

  1. End with Easiest Task

Treat the easiest task as a reward for getting the other tasks done. Getting to this point in your day will feel very refreshing. Having focused more of your energy on the harder tasks, you be relieved that the next few tasks require very little thought and energy to complete.

  1. Check Off as You Go

Most importantly, check off any task you’ve completed for the day. Other tasks that need more time can be transferred onto tomorrow’s daily calendar. Doing this will validate that you’ve completed more tasks than you thought possible, and that’s great reassurance.


Life can get busy, making it hard to set our priorities straight. However, if you follow these seven steps, you’ll be meeting deadlines, getting more done, and making more space and time in your day for other activities.

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