It can be tough to prioritize your workday when everything feels important. Whether you work on a team, you lead a team or you’re a solopreneur, you likely have a to-do list that feels overwhelming at times. One smart way to overcome the overwhelm is to learn how to prioritize your workday. When you know what tasks need to be done and how you should dedicate your time, you can help relieve your stress, optimize your time and make meaningful progress on the work that matters most.

Leadership coach and consultant, Lolly Daskal, has compiled a list of suggestions for prioritizing your work. While she shares these tips with her executive coaching clients, they can be helpful to anyone at any organization. Keep reading this issue of Promotional Consultant Today for Daskal’s top tips.

Create deadlines and stick to them. If procrastination or perfectionism stands in your way, start by establishing some firm deadlines. Daskal recommends arranging your planning to eliminate or reduce the time available for procrastination or trying to get things perfect. Without a schedule for taking action, research, planning and tinkering can drag projects out far too long.

Begin with the most important task. In other words, put first things first. When you knock out the day’s most important deliverable or activity, you’ll start the day with a greater sense of accomplishment and more confidence going into your next project. So, Daskal says to give yourself time to complete the day’s most important activity and then recheck your priorities to move on to the next most important one.

Plan to work and work to plan. Daskal says the most critical element of setting priorities is simply making a plan. However, stay flexible. Circumstances and priorities can change. The key is to pick a time of day that works best for you and then stick to it and get planning.

Complete as many tasks as possible. Whether you feel like you’re fighting fires all day, or your workday gets eaten up by meetings, it’s hard to feel organized and in control when you have several half-completed tasks on your desk. Daskal recommends that, when possible, try to complete one task before moving on to the next.

Focus on your most productive time. Maybe you do your best work late at night, or maybe you’re the first one at the office because you enjoy the quiet. Make a commitment to work on your most important priority every day when your energy and creativity are at their strongest, Daskal says, and save your less-productive times for routine or less-important tasks.

Use your time effectively. Stay mindful of work-related and personal distractions. Eliminate the ones you can, and work on managing the ones you can’t, Daskal says. This could mean using technology to silence electronic distractions as much as possible during times of focused work.

Organize with intention. At the time each day that works for you, review your to-do list and examine it for what you accomplished, what you could have done more effectively and the most important tasks you need to complete tomorrow, Daskal says. Then, set intentions for the things that need to happen in the coming days so you always know exactly what to do and how to spend your time. Organization creates discipline, and discipline gives you freedom.

Prioritization is a valuable skill for any professional. When you learn to distinguish what’s most pressing now and how you can best use your time, you’ll end up boosting your productivity and improving your overall results.

Compiled by Audrey Sellers

Source: Lolly Daskal is the founder of Lead From Within, a global leadership and consulting firm. She’s also a leadership coach, consultant, facilitator, speaker and author.