Diary Prioritisation: Streamlining Your To-Do List for Efficiency

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With the festive season now well behind us, we enter into the usual start of the year busy period. In the bustling business world, juggling numerous tasks and responsibilities is a common scenario. Put simply, the to-do list is never-ending, leaving professionals overwhelmed and wondering how to manage it all. At Acceler8, we understand the challenges this brings to both people’s stress levels and managing delivery on time. We believe that mastering the art of prioritisation and time management is key to conquering these challenges effectively. So here are a few practical tips that can really make a difference.

Scheduling and Prioritising

The key to navigating a whirlwind of tasks starts with organising your workload. One effective method is scheduling your to-dos in a diary or planner. This simple act not only ensures that nothing falls through the cracks but also offers a visual overview of what lies ahead and protects time in your diary from less important meetings to get things done.

However, not all tasks hold the same level of importance. Some actions keep returning, so in the usual to-do list these never come off even when done, whereas others are not as critical but still need to be kept on the list. To combat being burdened by an excessively long list, prioritisation becomes essential. This is where colour coding your actions proves to be a game-changer. By assigning different colours to various tasks, or codes if colours don’t work for you, based on their urgency or nature, you gain a clear understanding of what needs immediate attention and what can be pushed back.

Visualising Prioritisation

Imagine a diary where your tasks are colour coded. For instance, highlight urgent tasks in red, moderately important ones in yellow, and less time-sensitive ones in green. This visual representation allows for quick identification of priorities, aiding in time management and decision-making.

The goal scenario is where one day comprises of a reasonable number of meetings and actions, each colour coded for clarity. Contrast this with another day overloaded with red-marked urgent tasks, demonstrating the challenges of managing an overwhelming workload.

Adaptability in Prioritisation

And when a new urgent task lands on the day making a trade-off becomes so much easier. As unexpected issues often arise, throwing a wrench into meticulously planned schedules, the flexibility to reorganise tasks becomes crucial. Pushing less urgent tasks back to accommodate sudden priorities is a practical approach. This flexibility ensures the essential matters are addressed without compromising overall productivity.

Balancing Workload

Sometimes, the to-do list seems insurmountable, forcing individuals to work during evenings to alleviate pressure for the following day. While this might seem like a practical necessity for some, it’s essential to assess whether this pattern is sustainable or if it’s a sign of inefficiencies in managing workload. However, the reality is that the to-do list never truly ends. Certain actions are repetitive, such as Board reports or handling VAT payments. These predictable tasks should ideally be incorporated into routine schedules rather than being a last-minute surprise. Doing these tasks with some buffer time before the deadline also means if unexpected issues arise on the day these are scheduled, there is still time to get them done on time.

Strategic Time Management

The question arises – is it more practical to dedicate time on weekends to handle non-project-deliverable or non-chargeable but necessary tasks or to sacrifice core or billable hours during the week to address these administrative duties? Utilising evening and weekends for may help with a sudden or unexpected peak, but making this a habit means that underlying fatigues sets in and overall productivity drops … Striking the right balance is crucial to maintain productivity without overburdening oneself.


We believe mastering prioritisation and efficient time management is integral to handling the ever-growing to-do list. By utilising techniques like colour coding, adaptability in task management, and strategic planning, professionals can streamline their workload, ensuring that essential tasks are addressed on time and without unnecessary stress or compromise in productivity.

About the Author
A Change and Programme Management professional with international experience in business transformation, from strategy definition to implementation and covering all dimensions of change: sourcing, contracts, policy, process, IT, infrastructure, behavioural, organisational. John is a Fellow of the Institute of Consulting, a Change Management Practitioner, and MBA qualified who has delivered change and integration of customer facing, commercial, operational and back office capabilities in various organisations.

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