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Prioritising effectively

working togetherWhy prioritise?

Everybody puts things off sometimes, but keep putting things off and the work or study will pile up and begin to seem an insurmountable task. Delaying things to the last minute is also a cause of stress and stress can interfere with your ability to learn and to remember things. People have a tendency to concentrate on completing the easy jobs first, which obviously delays the more difficult or complicated tasks and this is why prioritising and improving your time management, is very important.

How do I decide on where to start?

There is a difference between a task that is urgent and a task that is important – an urgent task may not be very important!

Begin to prioritise your work, or study, by listing the tasks you need to do in order of importance – in other words compile a ‘to do’ list. Make sure you break the large tasks down into more manageable ones and perhaps split your list into things to do ‘now’, ‘this week’ and ‘this month’. Finally, make sure you draw up a new list frequently.

What are the advantages of using a ‘to do’ list?

  • Write it down. Once you have written a task down you can stop worrying about forgetting to do it. This relieves stress and many a sleepless night.
  • Prioritise. It helps you decide on priorities and to complete the most important and the most urgent tasks first.
  • It helps you to focus. You are less likely to become sidetracked when focussing on your list and you will gain more of a sense of purpose.
  • Rewarding. It is very satisfying to tick things off as you do them and this encourages you to do more and to stay on course with your list.
  • Take control. This gives you a feeling of control over your workload, rather than feeling that the work is controlling you.

Learn more about prioritising effectively

The Open University skills for study website has useful tips on Time management skills

Further information on prioritising effectively

Watch a YouTube video on how to prioritise your time, OU students give advice on time management

Time Management magazine is available online and via iTunes.

Investigate the diagnostic quizzes, advice and practical help at LearnHigher.

Manchester University also has some relevant and interesting material, How to Organise Your Time.