When I interviewed for jobs in my early twenties, I was often asked how I like to structure my day. How do I prioritize tasks? I always answered with the typical “I like to look at what is at hand, decipher the most important, and start there.” In reality, I have usually tried to tackle the largest task first and work my way down the list by size- biggest to smallest.
Now, a graduate student in my not-twenties, I take a different approach. It’s easy to become overwhelmed when there are many tasks looming in varying sizes and complexities. What I have found to be the least panic-inducing method is this:
- Make a list of tasks by size- smallest to biggest.
- Make a list of tasks by due date.
- Make a list of tasks by importance.
The one that’s due first, do that one first. If there are two due at the same time, start with the smaller one. That way your sense of accomplishment will motivate you to tackle the bigger project. If the bigger one is way more important, by all means, do that one first.
I think the key here is to not panic, and work on one project at a time. Working on too many projects at once can be confusing and lead to sloppy work.
Now go get after it!