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Study Notes: How to Prioritise

As a laboratory technician you have a variety of tasks to perform and goals to achieve, with varying time scales attached to each. With all these demands on your time it is important to work out what is important. Sometimes your day will be broken up with short term enquiries and long term projects that are not urgent but will become urgent if left undone.

To do lists
These are lists of tasks you need to carry out to achieve your work goals. These tasks might be specific projects or simply the day-to-day functions of the laboratory. By arranging these tasks in order of importance you have a prioritised 'to do list'.

These lists are important tools for you, they help organise your work, making you a more efficient worker and reducing your stress levels by giving you control over manageable quantities of work.Skip flash movie

Steps to construct a to-do list

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Now you have a precise plan that you can use to carry out the tasks in the order that they need to be done. This allows you to separate important jobs from the many time consuming trivial ones. It is an extremely useful way of organising yourself efficiently and of motivating yourself to achieve sizeable work goals through a series of tasks that are of a more manageable size.

It is a good idea to prepare 'to do lists' whenever is suits you; some people prefer to do them at the end of the day for the next day, others at the beginning of a day and others whenever they feel things are getting too busy.
You will find that ticking things off your list will give you a great deal of satisfaction.

Johari's window
Johari's window is a grid that can help you prioritise tasks and manage your time more efficiently.

How to use it:

  • Draw a grid of four squares with one axis labelled 'Urgency' and the other labelled 'Importance'.
  • Place each task in a relevant position on the grid to indicate the relative importance and urgency of the task.

Mapping tasks or time management is a process of assigning tasks a value for their importance and urgency, then plotting their relative positions on the grid.

Click on each of the 4 task types below, to view their characteristics.Skip flash movie

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List your tasks in a 'to do list'.

Prioritise your tasks into four categories.
1. Crises and fleeting opportunities
2. Development tasks
3. Distractions
4. Maintenance tasks.

Produce a detailed plan for each day, either at the beginning of that day or at the end of the day before. Include an estimate of the time each task should take. This should take you about 5 minutes to do. Be flexible. If there are no urgent, important tasks move on to your project tasks.

Making and following a plan will allow you more control over the tasks you have to do. However, there will always be unexpected situations and tasks that crop up, so you will need to be flexible in order to accommodate these unexpected situations.


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