Women at Work: How to Prioritize Items on Your To-Do List

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I hear you: having a million items on your to-do list and not knowing how to even begin crossing them off can be daunting. But sometimes all you need to do is take a step back, relax, take a deep breath, and learn how to prioritize.

Here's the method to my madness:

first, get it all out.

When life gets beyond hectic, I write EVERYTHING down. Don't worry about the order or organization of your doc, just get it all out. And don't stop writing until you've thought of everything.

then, clean it up.

Once I have all of the words down on paper, I start putting numbers next to things so that I can get organized. Things #1-5 are always things I HAVE to do, like right now. Everything else gets organized down the totem pole accordingly.

assign time slots to each item.

Once I know the things I'm going to handle right away, I estimate how much time they should take, and that keeps me on track. I write this in a column next to each task, and then as I get to work I actually set timers for each item.

know where you work best, and go there.

When I'm in a mode where I just have to crank things out, I have to get into an environment that works best for me. I know this means I have water and/or snacks on hand, my to-do list organized and ready to go, my phone on "Do Not Disturb" , my noise cancelling headphones on, and a Spotify playlist geared up. Having everything I need in one place—and not having to get up to search for things—helps me accomplish more

know when to stop

Working hard and cranking through your to-do list is great, but do you know when to take a break? I try to find a reason to get up from my desk every hour, whether it's to fill up my water bottle, take a bathroom break, get some lunch, or head to a meeting. It's important to look up from time to time and take a step back so you have enough energy to complete your to-do list.