Ever been sitting in front of your work laptop and said to yourself, I’ve got so much time and so little to do, I just don’t know what to do to occupy myself?

Probably not.

It seems that we all have more than enough to do to fill our time. In fact, most of us feel that we could use a few more hours every day. That being said, a fair amount of the most pressing items on your to-do list might seem significant today, but, in retrospect, might not be critically important. To add value to your organization, learn how to prioritize projects so you are spending your time on things that will have the most significant positive impact on your bottom line.

Estimated Impact of Projects

When faced with a list of projects, the pivotal question to ask yourself is: “How will this project impact the company in six months?”

Experience has taught us that, although there are many projects that could seem important today, quite a few won’t really have much of an affect on the organization in the long run. For example, every salesperson at one time or another has found themselves postponing action with a major impact client by focusing on a quick sale that will be the final step in reaching a sales quota even though it probably won’t make a long-term impact on their income or the company’s health.

On the other hand, there are projects that don’t seem to have major impact now, but could have a profound effect on your company in the future. For example, when you were setting up your email marketing, you had to configure an autoresponder system for proper follow-up. That project took time and had no immediate pay-off, but in the long run will play an incredibly important role in customer service and future income.

Putting Out Fires vs. Seeking Opportunity

In today’s workplace, there are always going to be issues that seem urgent and problems that need to be solved immediately. People in the workplace are often looking for a fireman to put out their fire. Often these urgent problems are not that important to the big picture and can be set aside so more high-value opportunities can be addressed.

People who advance in their career are often those who know how and when to put seemingly critical fires onto the backburner so they and other team members can focus on impactful initiatives.

Successful people focus on opportunities and proactively concentrate their resources on opportunities rather than reacting to solve every problem regardless of their actual impact on the organization.

Leverage Projects

Masters of prioritization know that projects that help you do other projects better should be moved to the top of the to-do list. Examples of leverage projects include vetting and making decisions on equipment or software that improve internal systems so you can get more done or put educational systems in place so people can do their jobs better.


Although there are times that you need to be reactive and address problems, try to spend more time being proactive and focusing your resources on those projects that will help take your company to the next level. Concentrate your efforts on projects that help you grow in the long run, leverage-building projects and opportunities rather than fires.