Make Prioritizing a Priority During the Holidays 

There never is enough time to accomplish all your tasks on a normal day, but hours seem to shrink even more during the holiday season. So, in order to work effectively and efficiently, you must learn how to determine what takes precedence among the list of things you need or want to accomplish. In other words, you need to prioritize.

Maintaining a to-do list just to see all the things you haven’t done can be demoralizing if, on a regular basis, you feel there isn’t enough time. Using a to-do list without prioritizing it can waste valuable time if you must keep rereading the list to find out what you must do next.

When you establish priorities, you create further accountability and a framework for getting things done. This framework allows you to organize existing tasks and responsibilities better, but, more importantly, it is a tool that can help you make decisions more easily and efficiently, both now and in the future.

Several factors can influence prioritizing, including:

  • Importance. Importance can be based on several things, but, to determine a task’s importance, ask yourself this question: “Does it relate to my agency’s mission statement?” If your task does not pertain to why your organization exists, there is little or no reason for it to be on your priority list.
  • Urgency. Today, almost every task seems to be categorized as urgent, whether it or not it actually is. However, if it is prioritized so you perform it sooner, the rush will be eliminated or greatly reduced
  • Time required or available. It is important to estimate how much time it will take to accomplish certain tasks. Knowing that will help you realize what you can and cannot do with the time available. It also spares you from trying to get things done at the last moment.
  • Relationship to other matters. Completing something on your to-do list may not be as relevant or important to you as it is for someone else. Knowing that your work can help or hinder other people or projects will encourage you to better prioritize your work.
  • Politics. You always must be responsive to supervisors or managers. If you find yourself avoiding your manager or supervisor regularly, you can become a source of irritation and be perceived as a person who requires additional follow-up. If your avoidance is based on your boss’s idiosyncrasies or quirks, you probably should learn to adjust. If, on the other hand, you are avoiding your boss due to divergent values, you probably won’t find any time management tool to be helpful.

One way to set priorities is to view tasks as a combination of being urgent and being important. A task that is both important and urgent would be rated a number 1 priority. For some people, a crisis is another name for a priority 1 rating. If it is important but not urgent, it is rated as a number 2 priority. If something is urgent but not important, it is rated as a number 3 priority. If it is neither urgent nor important, it is rated as a number 4 priority.

A number 1 priority might be a situation in which you need to resolve a customer complaint. Rebooking a ticket could be viewed as a number 2 priority. A number 3 priority might be keeping current with fares, and a number 4 priority might be filing brochures or reading an important industry article.

The key not only is to be proactive with your to-do list but also to expect or sense surprises and use time management tools — like prioritizing — effectively.

This week’s Hot Tip Tuesday was taken from The Travel Institute’s Certified Travel Associate (CTA) course. For more learning, register for the Time Management: Turning Time Wasters into Time Savers webinar this Thursday, December 13, at 2:30 pm (EST).