Succeed When Two Projects Fight for Your Attention

stop task overloadChoosing between two (or more) vital tasks adds undue stress to your already hectic day. That’s why many successful workers use a set of questions to unlock themselves from this decision game.

Now you can try this method for yourself.

Test Your Priorities

When two projects compete for your time, something clearly has to give. Choose the highest priority by asking yourself the following:

  • Is this task important, or just urgent? Some tasks disguise themselves as important because they need to be done ASAP. Think about the consequences of each task if not completed and weigh the response.
  • Which work will yield the highest payoff? Choose the task that offers the largest benefit in terms of your work, your family, and yourself.
  • Which task delivers the greatest long-term results? Think in terms of your personal and job-related goals and find the closest match.

Do This If You Still Can’t Decide

You’ve answered the questions above and still feel that you’re left with equally pressing tasks? When there’s no clear winner, follow these steps:

  1. Compare deadlines, the more difficult one is a higher priority
  2. Create a detailed project list – don’t allow yourself to drift from one task to the next, create set project plans
  3. See if deadlines can be flexible, or if parts of your work can be delegated; if you’re working toward a common goal, someone may rise to assist you
  4. Divide your time – split your task time evenly between each project, alternate hours during the day, or days during the week
  5. Use the 80/20 rule – that is, complete the bulk workload of each project first
  6. Avoid multi-tasking – devote yourself to only one task in the time allotted; though it’s much easier said than done, you’ll gain better results with a narrow focus

Take Action on What’s Important

The key to remember is that you must first choose your best next action, and then commit yourself fully to its completion.

How do you succeed when two projects fight for your attention? Please share your past experiences at work or at home.

[photo by BFS Man]
Jeff Doubek Day-Timer Spokesperson Jeff Doubek can be reached at

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