How to Prioritize Tasks – The Writer’s Diary

I need to make changes to my process.

Namely, I need to start prioritizing my tasks a little better. Lately, I’ve been creating a weekly to-do list, but I find that I do the items on that list at random, and assume that I’ll have enough time to get them all done. Which, I should be able to if I’m tackling them in the right way.

As it turns out, I’m not.

Unfortunately, not all tasks are equal. Some should just come first, whether you want to do them or not. And sometimes you need to reassess what you consider a priority, especially if it ends up eating more time than it should.

That brings me to the topic of the week:

How do I figure out what to prioritize?

I’ve decided to tackle my to-do list using the following criteria:

  1. Time Sensitive – Obviously if there is a time limit on the task, it should be done earlier, if not first. Things like blog posts that are scheduled to go up, or writing deadlines that need to be upheld. Be aware of deadlines, and don’t be afraid to set some yourself to give you that much more incentive.
  2. Time to Complete – The longer it will take to complete, the earlier it should be done. Especially since life is unpredictable, and you might end up with less time than you thought. The more time to complete the better, thus, the earlier the start, the better. Easy, no?
  3. Sequential – If there is an order that things need to go in, make sure you’re aware of that. Things that have a lot of steps to it should be tackled earlier. Things that might seem simple at first, might actually involve a lot of steps and be far more involved than you realize.
  4. Importance – The final category, and the catch-all for anything that doesn’t fit into the one of the above. It might be difficult to know what exactly qualifies as important, though. This is something that is determined by your own life and goals, if nothing else. Take a look at what you need to get done, and be aware of what you might be trying to avoid. Usually its the things that we avoid which turn out to be pretty important.

It’s with these categories in mind that I’m going to attempt to prioritize the next week, and see if that doesn’t help my productivity. As with anything to do with planning, having categories isn’t enough. Your tasks can shift through the above four categories. Some tasks that didn’t have a time limit can suddenly have one thrust upon them. Some events might take up more time than you expect and need to be pushed down the to-do list. I’m big on allowing things to shift and move around as necessary, and I need to embrace that more where my to-do list is concerned.

What I’m Working On

Still plugging away at that short story. I’m only a couple of hundred words in. Even though its a mystery, I’m attempting to tell the story from the pov of an outsider instead of the detective character or someone closely connected to him, which is making it much harder. I’m not sure its the best way to tell the story either, but I have a few very specific reasons I want to try it, so for that reason alone I’m pushing forward.

I wanted to take a step back from the Etsy prep this week to refocus on my writing and my blog and in a weird way, I feel as though I’ve made progress on neither. I just spent way too much time on a blog post that I decided to postpone, and that left me pretty frustrated. I’d spent so much time on something that wasn’t even a big priority for my week. This kind of feeds into the points I made above, where I’m not choosing my tasks well, and that’s making my work habits less productive than I want them to be.

What’s Up Next

FINISH that dang short story, for starters! I have a couple of posts that are supposed to go out this week, so I’m going to hopefully get all of those done on Monday and Tuesday so I can focus on writing that short story on Wednesday and Thursday.

Which means Friday I can finally put those final touches on the outline for Peculiar Casebook! I’m so excited to work on it. I’m wondering if I shouldn’t consider that my reward for getting everything else done this week!

I haven’t even begun to figure out what I’m doing for Camp NaNo. At this rate, it’s looking like I will be finishing up the first draft of Peculiar Casebook #1 instead of starting something new. Not what I wanted, but I’ve taken on quite a lot this year and I’m still trying to figure out a process that works for me. What matters is that I learn and adapt, and obviously forgive myself for the missteps. They were inevitable, after all. No one does everything perfectly, and perfection really isn’t the point, anyway.

Over to You Guys!

That’s how my week went, and now I want to hear from you! What have you been working on in the past week? What do you hope to finish in the next seven days? Let me know in the comments down below!

Author: Alyssa Flynn

Alyssa is a writer of fantasy and sci-fi, a certified geek, and a blogger over at Alyssa Lost in Space. She is currently writing her first novel which she plans to self-publish in Fall 2020.

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