Prioritizing is a skill that requires practice. There are many approaches you can take. Here are some suggestions:
1) Make a list. By thinking through and writing down each item that needs completion, you can see it on paper.
2) Mark what is urgent or essential. Take into account deadlines and meetings.
3) Order each task based on effort and estimated value.
4) Consider due dates and how long it will take to do each item.
When answering this question, show the interviewer that you have a system in place that helps you to think through what needs to happen, and when. The better you can prioritize, the more productive you will be, making you an asset to their company!
"I aim to be as effective and efficient as possible and make sure I can use all minutes of a day for a project. I have a few things going at once most of the time. I am the lead on some, the delegator on others, and the reviewer on another, for instance. This way, by splitting up the work to the appropriate parties, both my team and I can be the most efficient with our time."
"I often have multiple projects due at a time, since I am the assistant to three different executives. I ask my executives to rank their need from 1-5 in the level of urgency, including its due date. I start my work on that list. If there is more than one urgent need, I will work overtime, or through my lunch, to ensure that I deliver everything on time."
"I had to utilize creative problem solving last month when we found ourselves short-staffed and unable to hire new employees due to budget cuts. I changed our schedule to include some split shifts and received approval for a small amount of overtime spending. The problem is solved, at least temporarily, until our company comes out of our spending freeze."
"In my current department, we are very systematic in our customer delivery promises; however, that is not to say that doubling up on client deliveries does not happen. When situations occur where I have to prioritize, I will do so by the size of the client and budget. It may seem unfair at times; however, our largest clients with the most significant spend always rule out."
"I prioritize based on urgency and time required for the project. I have a list of what needs to be done, by when, and how long I estimate that it will take to accomplish. I am great under pressure, but try to make sure that I don't get myself or my team into a sticky situation by not allotting enough time for any particular project."
"I love to keep running lists of everything that I need to do, big or small. Mostly because I love crossing things off of the to-do list, but also because it helps me keep track of everything. Lately, I've started utilizing a free project management software that I use to make those lists, categorize the tasks, and mark them by the level of urgency. I take care of the most time-sensitive issues first and then move along to the equally important, but perhaps less time-sensitive to-dos. I also estimate how long each task will take, so if I have a few minutes in between projects, I can tackle the quick to dos and use that time effectively, rather than use it to figure out 'what's next.'"
"I follow the tried and true practice of making lists and assigning each item a priority and tackling the list that way. I love to check things off my list, as it gives me a feeling of accomplishment. Also, I am a believer in following my intuition. If I feel that something lower on the to-do list needs to be bumped up in priority, I will tackle that right away. As a teacher, there are always a lot of simultaneous to do items, so in addition to prioritizing, I have to be good at multitasking; something I find I do quite well as both a teacher and a mom."
"I frequently work on multiple projects simultaneously, which I throughly enjoy. To make sure I meet deadlines, I identify the most pressing projects based upon their due dates, and use to-do lists and a calendar to keep track of all upcoming duties and important events. I review my lists every morning and at the end of each day to ensure the duties assigned were completed in a successful fashion. I also do not hesitate to work overtime if necessary."
"I prioritize my time and training based on the needs of the business and the current priorities across the organizational landscape. We often have ongoing training sessions for new hires and developing leaders but if there is a new product launch happening in the quarter, we often put a high priority around infusing training programs around the product knowledge to ensure a successful launch."
"I spend 10 minutes in the morning jotting down the day's tasks into a notes app, ranking them on urgency. I separate my tasks into urgent, not-as-urgent, and long-term. It's effective because it helps me keep track of my deadlines and prevents me having to rush to finish my tasks quickly."
"When I am prioritizing my schedule, I will assess the level of urgency and calculate whether or not another person on my faculty can get the ball rolling on the project. In my current role, I hold regular faculty meetings so that all staff members have the opportunity to be heard when it comes to what they feel is a priority on campus."
"When prioritizing, I look at the deadlines first. Then, based on urgency I decide where to focus my attention first. An event might not happen for five months, but there are always details that need to be tackled along the way."