How To Establish Priorities At Work: 9 Tips For Managers

Every decision you make can feel like a top priority when you’re the person in charge. However, understanding how to establish priorities at work is crucial to your business’s success.


How do you determine the top priorities for your business?

It’s so easy to get caught up in everything if you own a company or manager. It seems like you have to be everywhere all the time. 

However, it doesn’t have to be that way. Prioritizing your tasks is crucial for maximum effort and success in business. 

The focus of this article will be on how managers ought to prioritize tasks. I will outline nine different approaches to setting priorities for your business in this article.

  1. Have A Daily Routine- And Stick To It
  2. Create A “Top Priority” List
  3. Identify What’s “Urgent” vs. “Important”
  4. Determine The Value Of Your Work
  5. Determine Which Priorities Will Significantly Impact Others
  6. Identify Personal And Business Priorities
  7. Remind Yourself To Focus On Top Priorities Year-Round
  8. Step Back And Reevaluate
  9. Be Flexible And Ready To Make Changes

Have a daily routine- and stick to it

Routines create a steady flow of work regardless of whether you’re doing work for yourself or your business. Habits play a critical role in building successful companies.

By committing to a set number of tasks each day, teams form routines. Routines help teams work together and set expectations.

Holding yourself accountable and setting intentions can help you develop a routine more efficiently. You can also use it to prioritize your workload when you need to make better decisions.

Create a “Top Priority” list

As opposed to a general list, create a list of the highest priorities. It would be different from a daily to-do list of everything you want to accomplish.

Make a list of things you want to accomplish first. It can be a long list of things to do on any given day. Make a list, but then figure out what should be prioritized.

My Approach

In making a priority list, I always like to narrow it down to three items. It’s better to get three things done in one day than trying to complete ten items on your original to-do list. When narrowing down your priorities, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Which tasks will help me move my business forward?
  • What will I accomplish today that will grow the business in the next few weeks and months?

Once you get your priorities done in one day, get to your other tasks if you have time during the day.

Identify what’s “Urgent” vs. “Important”

There’s much work to be done when deciding what needs the most attention. It boils down to taking on work that’s considered urgent.

If you need to complete work by the end of the day (or within a few hours), that needs to be accomplished. Unfinished work can lead to missed deadlines or project delays.

When it comes down to urgent work, focus on taking care of it earlier in the day. Especially if it needs to get done by the end of the day, it’ll be done on time.

How to establish priorities at work: Identifying what's "important" and "urgent" can help separate your tasks easily.

Use a 2 x 2 matrix

Organize your tasks using a 2 x 2 matrix to separate essential and urgent tasks. You can create a 2 x 2 matrix (four quadrants) to separate the charges.

‘What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important.’

What is important is seldom urgent, and what is urgent is seldom important.

Dwight Eisenhower (Former President of the United States)

Create a list of tasks for yourself, then a list of more focused functions on your business. You can then separate your own goals from the company’s overall goals.

Determine the value of your work

When you’re prioritizing your work, identify which tasks will bring the most value to your business. So you’re going back again to which ones are considered a top priority over the others. 

Perhaps client projects are more important than internal work. Before developing training materials (i.e., standard operating procedures), focus on customer support. 

Client work always has some value. If you are meeting client needs, then you are focused on the right tasks.

How to assess and measure value

Here’s a table to determine how high or low your tasks are—also, some examples of where they fit in.

  • Critical priorities: Usually time-sensitive and high value
  • High priorities: Not time-sensitive but still high value
  • Medium priorities: Time-sensitive but not considered high value
  • Low priorities: Ones that are not time-sensitive and not high value
  • Critical
    Example: Strict client deadlines
    Example: Work involving critical thinking, planning, and collaboration
    Example: Work involving meetings and email considerations
    Example: Work that’s meant to be held off until later, during downtime, or eliminated from the list
    Priorities Chart (Source:

    Determine which priorities will significantly impact others

    It would help if you determined whether your preferences and business objectives are aligned. Is the work you do having an impact on the lives of people? Are you satisfying client needs and expectations?

    If what you do every day positively impacts others, your business will grow and thrive in the long run.

    How to establish priorities at work: If your work is positively impacting others, then your business is on the right track.

    Consultancy or coaching companies would be one example. When you teach people how to start and grow a business and see results, you know you’re doing something right. Providing people with business solutions will make an impact on their lives.

    Identify personal and business priorities

    Occasionally, your interests may conflict with what everyone else wants in an organization. When that occurs, it’s good to map out your personal and business needs.

    Separating the two makes it easier to prioritize what needs to be done for the business. As a result, the value of the company and you personally are better understood. It builds credibility and trust in your leadership skills over time.

    Remind yourself to focus on top priorities year-round

    Throughout the year, it’s good to focus on two to three priorities and overall progress. Keeping track of your business goals on a weekly, monthly, or yearly basis helps you stay on track.

    Some questions to ask yourself include the following:

    • Are you meeting your business commitments?
    • Are you executing correctly?

    If you answer no to these questions, you may need to adjust your priorities. To gain more time, look into delegating tasks to your team. You should monitor your progress as you change when you’re in this situation.

    Step back and reevaluate

    During times when your business is going well, you may want to move along faster. However, that may not always be the right move. Making decisions too soon can be costly.

    On some occasions, it’s better to hold off on some things until later. If you’re in doubt about implementing something new for your business, now may not be the right time.

    So when you’re in those situations, it’s good to reevaluate what needs to happen next for business growth. You can make the best decisions by asking yourself when is the best time to take action. Doing that often can be more accessible when making decisions, and it’s not as stressful.

    How to establish priorities at work: Being flexible and adapting to changes helps when running a business.

    Be flexible and ready to make changes

    Managing a business involves uncertainty and change. Unexpected events can happen at any time, and it’s a good idea to be prepared for them.

    At the same time, it’s crucial that you remain focused on tasks that will drive your business forward. Planning for the future can be extremely helpful in general.

    Final Words

    Business leaders often find prioritizing challenging. The key is to do it correctly to become adaptable to a fast-changing world. 

    People in business can use these practices to make better decisions. Making the right decisions can help any company decide which work is most important.

    Especially today, our world is one of constant change and endless possibilities. As a result, everything can change at any time, and you should always be prepared for the unexpected.

    Your Turn: Do you know how to manage priorities well?

    I want to turn the matter over to you. Is it difficult for you to determine what needs attention? 

    Despite your best efforts to grow your business, do you recognize that distractions will occur? How do you overcome them?

    Feel free to share your thoughts by leaving a comment below. I look forward to reading your reviews, and I’ll gladly respond promptly.

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    Eric is a content writer and the site owner of He takes great pride in helping people manage their time and grow their businesses. Eric is a firm believer in time freedom, as he believes in taking ownership of time. 
    “Time is your most important asset. It can be your best friend or worst enemy. How you use your time can shape the future you desire to have.” In his leisure time, Eric loves to write and read whenever possible. He enjoys going for long walks outdoors while doing in-home workout videos every week. You can follow Eric on LinkedIn.
    Self Photo 2019: Here's a picture at a building in downtown Chicago.

    4 thoughts on “How To Establish Priorities At Work: 9 Tips For Managers”

    1. Thanks for the helpful tips on how to establish priorities at work. I have worked to identify things that can cause the dreaded “fire drills” that end up taking over a day (or longer), but staying productive is still a challenge. 

      A friend of mine recently decided that his social media usage needed to be minimized, so he decided to only allow himself to check it on Sundays. As much as I would love to do that, I often find that I have to log in to my personal social media accounts to access my business accounts. Ugh. I’m thinking I need to go through the list again and find a good approach for managing social media…

      • Hi Aly,

        Staying productive while establishing your priorities is a challenge for sure. When you’re managing a business (while looking over employees), there are some things you have to keep in mind. Some managers are good at it, and usually thrive in their roles.

        How that person is handling their social media usage is smart. I think checking in on social media once a week is a minimalist approach to work. So I like what that person is doing, and it probably is effective as well. I would encourage you to take on a similar approach to your business strategy.

        You make some excellent points. Thank you for sharing your insights- much appreciated!

    2. Hi Eric, When it comes to business, we need to get our priorities straight, we just need a better technique when it comes to organising our work.

      I think if we know our priorities in business, it will reduce our stress and help us to focus. When we prioritize our work and identify which tasks will bring the most value to our business, it will improve productivity and time management.

      Create a list of the highest priority tasks and make sure that most productive time is spent on tasks that most help you achieve your business goals.

      In my opinion, when we know how to prioritize our tasks and our time, we will feel that much of the work that feels urgent doesn’t really need our attention.

      • Hi Bushra,

        Prioritization is crucial when it comes to running a business. Especially when starting out as a new entrepreneur (or manager), it can be challenging at times.

        As you emphasized, when we set priorities, it’s easier and becomes less stressful overtime. If we stick to good habits, we save time and improve our productivity.

        Making a priority list is something I’ve laid out in a previous post. If you know how to prioritize your tasks effectively, you’re way ahead of the game in business.

        Learning how to prioritize our work and managing time are skills that can pay off in the long-run. When we start early on (such as today), the better we can work on these skills for the future. Also, we’re able to grow and scale our businesses to the next level.

        These were excellent points you made. I’m very impressed with what you have to say, and proven to be valuable as well.

        Thanks again for sharing your thoughts- they’re much appreciated!


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