Prioritization plays a key role in time management just as it does in other areas of life and business. When it comes to us as individuals, it is something we act upon subconsciously. Before we
look at the importance of prioritization in a workplace environment, it may be noteworthy to say something about the role it plays in our lives as individuals.
Prioritization In Our Lives As Individuals
It is common to have a ‘To Do List’ and that list is supposed to help set things in order of priority as it is related to time. One thing that should be noted here is that, it is not necessarily what we note down or think is important, and mentally or physically put at the top of our
priority list that matters, it is actually what we do.
That is, we may say within ourselves that dashing to the grocery store is simply a top priority. We may go as far as writing it down or lifting our right hands to affirm and pledge that, it is indeed the most pressing and important thing to do in this material time. Yet it is what you end up doing that is the real number 1 in your scale of preference.
It is not what you put on paper or in your mind, but what you
do at that given time. Hence if you say dashing down to the grocery store in your top priority, but you sat in front of the television to
watch a show, that show is your real priority.
The long and short of this is that, it is what you ended up doing that took
precedence over what you claimed was at the top of your list. Therefore,
your real priority list is not what you wrote down in the morning for
that day but what you wrote down at night as the things you did for that
day. Try doing this and compare the two, it will give you a very good
idea of what your priorities are and how far they are from what you
think, say, or write down. Priority is not about what you will do but
what you did.
Prioritization In A Workplace Environment
have said more than a side note on setting priorities on an individual
level. Let us look at prioritization in a workplace environment. Setting
your priorities in a workplace environment may be “slightly” different
with that of personal prioritization because of a little word called
In a workplace environment, you may not be able to afford to say one thing and do another because you will be
held accountable for your actions in ways that may go as far as costing
you your job. It is therefore important to take the issue of
prioritization seriously, especially when it comes to time management
because the expectation of the people around you or the organization as a
whole may go past the idea of an aspiration to something more grounded,
in the way of holding you accountable if you do not meet deadlines.
Put The Most Important Thing First
As a manager or any level of worker that is accountable to someone at the
top, it is normal to have a priority list whether in the physical or
mental sense with respect to tasks you want to achieve. There will be
those that you just know you have to do while you might get some that
you also just know you will never do. It depends on certain factors,
which we will be looking at once we are done with this.
Putting the most important thing first in a workplace environment has a lot to do on the who rather than the what. Let me say that again; the what might be really important but it is the who that takes precedence over the what.
We can break this further to say that, if the CEO asks you to get him or
her a cup of coffee, that will be more important than your direct boss
asking you to go get him or her the project file both of you have been
working on to close a deal.
Prioritization puts position at the top of the list before it puts the assignment or task.
It is important you allow this to sink in because we are talking of a
workplace environment. In the same vein, you may come to office on one spiritedly morning, with a nicely typed list of tasks you plan doing for the day, listing them according to their order of importance. Be ready to discard that list or include something else when position places a
demand that is not in your nicely typed list on you.
How does this affect time management? Of what has this got to do with time
management? It has everything to do with time management in a workplace
environment because your time belongs to the organization, yet how the
organization places a demand on that time leaves room for a lot of
interpretation on your part.
This is actually not a good thing because it implies you have to do a lot of balancing act on your part, in determining what has already been officially designated as being
important (just as the individual priority list we talked about at the
beginning of this article) against what is actually important (i.e. the
demand placed on you that might have nothing to do with what is
We are still looking at the impact of prioritization in a workplace environment as it relates to time management. The previous part has shown that it is more than putting down a list and running through them. The major theme of the first part was:
Prioritization puts position at the top of the list before the assignment or task
That is, “the who” is more important than “the what,” and we went on to say
that, you need to know what to give your time to in other for that time
to be productive and not detrimental to you. We continue by expounding
on this theme.
Knowing The Most Important Things: The 4 Workplace Demands
Four set of people place a demand on your time in a workplace environment
and things can become confusing and precarious if you do not know how to
manage your priority list, so that, you can manage your time in the most productive manner possible. The four sets of people that place a demand on your time are:-
- Your Boss or those At the top
- Your colleague or those by your side
- Your Juniors or those below
has been placed in their order of preference with regards to the position
over tasks and you are at the bottom because of your personal demand in a
workplace environment is the least important of the four.
What Your Boss Wants
What your boss wants, takes precedence in your priority list. He or she is
the one that pays the bills as it were. The boss is also the one that
determines who gets promoted or given a handsome bonus. You should not
be afraid of offending the guy that is just over you, especially when it
is the overall boss that has called upon you to fulfill a task. All the
others will do well to give you the required space to get that done.
Every other thing becomes secondary when your boss places such a demand on
you and this includes your daily target that has been set by the
organization even when the task has nothing to do with your target.
What Your Colleague Wants
It will be easy to say you should not place this above your own given task
because your colleagues are basically competing to move ahead of you in
the business. They may be competing with you, and you should indeed not
pick what you colleague wants you to do over what you are supposed to
be doing. The issue here is that, you should still place them above your
set tasks in your list of priorities. After all, your juniors are also
in that list and I have said they too should be placed above you.
This means there is a benefit you can get from this that may not be directly
linked to doing their job at the expense of yours. The first thing is
that, they will not ask you to do that, but they might need you to do
something for them that might take a bit of your time. What we are
talking about here is the productive use of your time because that is
basically the essence of time management.
The productive use of your time will place attending to your colleague
higher than you in the workplace environment, because it opens other
door of opportunities.
- Expanded network and contacts as
you get to connect and work with people in ways you may not have had if
you just faced your own tasks.
- Expanded network and contacts as
- Experience as you get to garner more of that under your belt.
- Favors returned and they get to be obligated to you in one form or the other
- Get a lot of goodwill.
- Opportunities for promotion as this are linked to your expanded network and favor you granted.
What Your Juniors Want
The time you give to juniors can be more important than what you give to
those on top or your colleagues. With such people, you get to build both
goodwill and loyalty. Goodwill is a great commodity in the workplace
environment, but it becomes a potent force when it is combined with
- Juniors find it easier to be loyal because they are not competing with you directly.
- They are more eager to pay back as they feel indebted to you
- Being in good stead with them is noticed by those higher up the ladder
are dedicated to your success so when they find themselves as members
of your team in a project, they are ready to give their all.
I hope you can now see why you are at the bottom of the scale when it
comes to deploying your time in the workplace environment in the most
Now does this mean that you should not attend to your tasks? What it means is that you should know where to place your priority in the light of the dynamics of a workplace environment. Besides you can find yourself in a situation where your tasks become easier to
execute because you have great commodities, like favors, goodwill and
loyalty to tap.
We have looked at how your priority list in a workplace environment
should follow after the peculiar dynamics of such environment, where the
position of the person that has given you a task is more important than
the content of the task. We have linked this to how time management actually means how to maximize the productivity of your time in the workplace environment.
Summary of The Impact of Prioritization I And II
- Put the most important thing first.
- Putting the most important thing first does not mean your tasks will hold priority over others.
can identify the important things by looking at what your boss or those
higher than you are demanding from you, what your colleagues are
demanding from you, what those below you are demanding from you, and
what you are demanding from yourself.
- Bosses are happy when you address issues they deem to be critical.
- You can manage your time better if you set things of high priority in periods of the day you are most productive.
- Setting your priority gives you an opportunity to see what you can postpone and what you must address.
We want to look at a couple of areas where prioritization in the workplace environment is of great benefit.
Pushing High Priority Tasks To Periods When You Are Most Productive
Prioritization gives you the chance to address or tackle issues when you are at your
most productive level of the working day. You best period of the working
day may be any one or the following:
- Early hours of your arrival at the office
- Just before the lunch break
- Just after your lunch break
- In the afternoon
- Towards closing hours
may be any or none but people tend to be more connected to certain
times of the day when they are either more mentally alert or just more
relaxed. You can prioritize task based on your day-weather-personality
report as it were i.e. shifting the most important things to the period
you are most productive.
Another way of looking at this is that, you can pick the worst possible time for you to deal with some of the more tedious tasks on your To Do List. This could be when you
feel you must be in a certain mood in order to successfully accomplish
such a task. The whole idea is that, you already know the tasks at hand
before the day and know just where and when to slot each task so that it
will give you the best out of it.
Prioritization Helps You To Know What To Postpone And What To Address
You get to know what you can afford to postpone and what you must deal
with. It is not just about postponing or addressing pressing issues, the
workplace environment is a place where negotiations
take place every day and deals are struck. That is, knowing what you
have on your desk will place you to place the right calls and make the
right deals, as it were with respect to negotiating what you are
supposed to handle, or could take up an aspect for you and just juggle
things around until you know what you must address.
This is ideal when your desk has more than you can handle and you already
applied the principle of we harped on in Part II of this series with
respect to placing others before you in your priority list. You can tap
from the favor and goodwill of others to shift tasks and get them
organized in such a way that you can easily address them in a more
Prioritization is an integral part of time management.
It gives you a clear map of the areas you need to concentrate on before
starting and keeps you focused on achieving set goals within the
Golden Rule Of Prioritization In Workplace Environment
The golden rule of prioritization in a workplace environment is that
nothing is set in stone. You have to be flexible enough to know that
something might come up that will make everything on your To Do List
become relatively unimportant. You can also get a pressing issue on your
desk that has to be given priority over every other assignment.
Prioritization can make everyone about you happy. Knowing what you must immediately
the address will create the right impact in your workplace environment that
all the right people will notice.