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As a project manager, balancing and prioritizing is half the battle. You have to be able to assign tasks to team members in a way that makes the most of everyone’s limited time. This can be difficult, however, when your project stakeholders seem to want every single task to be a number one priority.

How to Prioritize Your To-Do List

When you start to feel overwhelmed by the challenges of project prioritization, remember that there’s always a path forward. You may not be able to keep every project stakeholder perfectly happy along the way, but if you use the strategies described below, you can make the most effective use of your available resources while keeping your projects on track.

Track Your Tasks in a Single Location

If you can’t evaluate your project tasks and requirements all in the same place, you’ll have a hard time making reasonable decisions about what should come first. Advanced project management solutions like Clarizen make it easy to define, track and organize project tasks, so that nothing slips through the cracks. Clarizen also allows all project team members to see the current project plan in real time, helping everyone stay informed about changes to timing or priorities.

Confirm Your Time and Effort Estimates

Even the best project managers sometimes miss the mark when estimating the time required for certain project tasks. When you’re faced with a long list of high-priority items, it’s worth taking a second look and determining whether you’ve allotted too much or too little time to any of the tasks on your team’s plate. Ask for feedback from your team members to help refine your estimates, and consider moving to a bottom-up approach to project planning, rather than the traditional top-down model.

Evaluate Risks and Impacts

If you’re facing a situation in which some tasks or deliverables will have to be completed late, it’s important to have a clear understanding of the downstream effect a missed deadline will have. Often, it’s better to de-prioritize a high-visibility task that has fewer dependencies later in the project plan, rather than delaying a seemingly less important task on which dozens of other activities depend. It’s also important to understand the budgetary effect of extending the deadlines for different tasks, especially when they involve keeping team members on the project for longer than expected.

Get Input from Senior Stakeholders

As every experienced project manager knows, senior stakeholders don’t always communicate their priorities clearly the first time around. If you are struggling to fit competing tasks into your timeline, explain the situation to the customer, executive sponsor or other high-level stakeholder. You may get clarification on a few points that will take the stress out of your project management prioritization.

Are you looking for ways to reduce stress, increase efficiency and improve project quality? Learn more about Clarizen’s industry-leading solutions for project planning, reporting and collaboration.

Anne Catambay
As head of global marketing, Anne Catambay draws on more than 20 years of leadership experience in Silicon Valley. She joins Clarizen from Badgeville, where her global marketing efforts helped the company achieve a leadership position in a new market category (gamification). Prior to Badgeville, Anne held senior roles in global partner marketing at VMware, driving dramatic growth in a new market and seeing the company through acquisition (EMC) and, subsequently, through a highly touted IPO.Previously, she ran demand generation at Keynote Systems during the company's successful IPO, ultimately leading the company's partner marketing, corporate marketing and demand generation efforts. Anne also drove market demand in the Americas for British software company Systems Union. She holds a B.S. In business marketing, a B.F.A. in photography from San Jose State University and an M.B.A. from Santa Clara University.