Prioritize Project Tasks With These Techniques

Got a to-do list as long as your arm, a dozen KPIs to hit, and three different 'top priorities? We got you.

September 9, 2022
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You’ve got a to-do list as long as your arm, a dozen KPIs to hit, and three different bosses telling you to focus on three different “top priorities”.

Sound familiar?

This is the way most of us work… and a surefire recipe for going nowhere fast.

Want to get more done with less stress and have a real impact on your organization’s goals? Here’s everything you need to know about how to set priorities at work – and get them done.

Why do we prioritize projects?

As the old adage goes: “if everything's a priority, then nothing's a priority”.

It’s human nature to spread our efforts too thin unless our tasks are set out in a clear hierarchy. 

Let’s be honest: we’ve all spent time on a task we know isn’t the most important thing on our plate, but is a lot easier than whatever is.

So, it’s no wonder that:

  • 11.4% of the average organization’s resources are wasted through poor project management processes.
  • Businesses that don’t integrate project management into their strategies will see their outright project failure rate increase by 66%.
  • Just 2.5% of companies complete 100% of their projects successfully.

Figure out how to set priorities at work and you can enter the small percentage of companies that consistently succeed with what they set out to.

Try Assembly to make it as easy as possible for your people to prioritize projects.

What are examples of work priorities?

Depending on your role within your organization, some examples of priorities at work are:

  • Increasing sales
  • Filing the company accounts on time
  • Keeping customers happy
  • Planning staff schedules
  • Boosting employee engagement
  • Reducing staff turnover

A common thread that runs through these priorities is that they all make a real impact on the success of the business. If you’ve got a “priority” on your list that wouldn’t improve your organization’s chances of success if you achieved it, then you should seriously consider how much of a priority it really is.

How do you determine project priority?

Dwight D. Eisenhower rose to the rank of five-star general in the United States army and served as the Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe during World War II. 

And to top it off, he was elected the 34th President of the United States and served two terms, from 1953 to 1961. So it’s safe to say he knew a thing or two about getting things done. And his most famous productivity strategy is one we can all use to balance priorities at work and get more done.

It’s called the Eisenhower matrix, and here’s how it works:

The Eisenhower MatrixCC BY-SA 4.0

  1. Grab a notepad and write a numbered list of everything on your plate at work.
  2. On a new page in your notebook, draw a quick Eisenhower matrix (like the one above).
  3. Plot each task on the matrix based on how urgent it is (how soon it needs doing) along the x-axis and how important it is (how much of an impact it’s going to have on your organization's success) on the y-axis.

Book a demo of Assembly to make it easy for your teams to quickly and easily create their own Eisenhower matrixes . 

Once you’ve mapped your tasks out onto the four quadrants of your Eisenhower matrix you can easily see which you should prioritize – as well as which you can forget about.

Here’s what to do next:

  1. Do the tasks that are urgent and important. These, by definition, need to be your immediate priorities. Just be sure you don’t confuse them with tasks that are urgent but, in the grand scheme of things, unimportant.
  2. Plan the tasks that are important but not urgent. These are the tasks that would take your contributions to your organization to the next level – conducting in-depth customer research, automating your team’s workflows, or running an employee engagement survey – but so often never get ticked off your to-do list. 
  3. Delegate the tasks that are urgent, but not important. These things need doing, but aren’t going to move the needle when it comes to your KPIs. So, they should never be your priority.  
  4. Eliminate the tasks that aren’t urgent or important. If a task doesn't tick either of these boxes, then it shouldn’t be on your to-do list.

Ultimately, what separates the Eisenhowers of the world from the rest of us is that they make sure the important but not urgent tasks on their plate take priority over the urgent but not important ones. Take a leaf out of their book to make as big of an impact in your organization as possible.

What is a project’s scope and priorities?

A project’s scope is a description of what’s going to be needed to be done to get it over the line. It lays out the project’s:

Without a clearly defined project plan, a project has no hope of coming in on time and on budget. But as soon as a project has been scoped out, it’s a lot easier to see how all the moving parts need to fit together – and what needs to come first.

Used in tandem, an Eisenhower matrix can reveal which projects you should prioritize, then a clear project scope can reveal what order you should tackle a specific project in. This helps you and your team create daily to-do lists that always leave you tackling the most important things first.

Book a demo of Assembly to see how easy it can make scoping out projects and setting priorities. 

How to manage changing priorities at work

"No battle plan survives contact with the enemy”, said the German military strategist Helmuth von Moltke. While you’re (hopefully!) not taking your project plan into battle, the point still stands: it’s never going to unfold exactly how you’d planned it would.

In fact, a massive 39% of projects fail because of a change in the organization's priorities.

The fact is that you're inevitably going to end up with a spanner of two in the works of your grand plan. The most effective project managers and team leaders know how to roll with the punches and effortlessly shift priorities.

Here’s a few tips for taking a change of priorities in your stride:

  • Always have a North Star. Ultimately, a Head of Sales’s job is always to make sales, a Head of People’s job is to keep employees happy and engaged, and a Head of Operations’s job is to make sure the business runs smoothly. If you never lose sight of your role’s North Star, your priorities will never change too drastically.
  • Understand the bigger picture. You might have got the greenlight to go ahead with a pet project you’d been building towards for years at the start of March 2020… but your priorities will have certainly changed a few weeks later. Look at the bigger picture and you’ll find it a lot easier to navigate a change in priorities – even when it’s hard to swallow.
  • Ask for clarity. Are your priorities always changing because you’re constantly getting contradictory messages from up the chain of command? You’re going to need to hold the higher-ups accountable for giving your mixed messages. At the end of the day, you’re going to go nowhere fast if you’re constantly being asked to switch to another project before the current one if bearing fruit – which could ultimately put your job security at risk if you don’t draw a line in the stand now.

Bringing it all together

How effectively you manage all the priorities on your plate at work is going to have a huge impact on your career trajectory. Stick to the tips we’ve outlined here to make sure you and your team are always working on the most important thing – and having the biggest impact on your organization’s bottom line.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Is Assembly SOC 2 compliant?

Yes, at Assembly, security is a top priority. Each quarter, we have ongoing security work that is everyone’s responsibility. While we maintain a strong security posture, it was important for us to prove to our customers that we do everything we claim to do. This led us to pursue a SOC 2 Type II report that would provide evidence of our compliance with industry gold-standard security practice.

What's the ROI for employee recognition?

There is study after study showing that employee recognition leads to increased engagement. This in return creates an environment where employees are happier and more motivated which increase productivity and reduces voluntary turnover significantly. In order to filled critical roles, companies tend to spend nearly twice the value of an annual salary. Assembly is an investment in your employees that supports your bottom line.

Does Assembly offer longer-term contracts?

Yes, we will offer contracts for companies with longer-term agreements to help larger customers have more certainty around future costs.

The minimum agreement term is a 12-month subscription.

Does Assembly offer onboarding support?

We do and for FREE! Any new customer needing further support to get started with Assembly to ensure you're set up for success can request custom onboarding support. Improving your employee experience is about much more than just using our amazing software; it’s about transforming your business to create a workplace that people love. That’s much easier to do with the personal support and advice from our passionate people experts.

Is there a free version of Assembly?

Yes. We offer a completely free plan for up to 50 team members. This plan is intended for teams or organizations that are looking to get started with an employee engagement tool. Keep in mind, this plan is limited in features.

All customers can open an Assembly account for free and get started without a credit card. Then you can change plans as necessary.

How much do rewards cost?

At the time of redemption (when your employees exchange their points for a paid reward) you'll pay face value. If a reward is a $10 Amazon gift card, your cost will be $10. All paid rewards are billed for on a monthly basis.

The good news is that you don't have to pay for rewards upfront because we only charge you when points are redeemed, not when they're earned.

Does Assembly offer discounts?

We offer discounts or educational or charitable organizations. In order to secure a discount, you'll first need to book a demo with a customer support specialist.

For all other organizations, we are willing to consider longer-term agreements in exchange for discounts. To set up annual plans or longer, you will need to book a demo with a customer support specialist.

How do I cancel my plan if needed?

If you're on a month to month plan, you can go here and cancel anytime. If you're having concerns or need help setting up your account for success, you can always book a demo with a customer support specialist.

If you're on a longer-term custom plan, you'll need to reach out to your customer support specialist to cancel your account or email us at

What customizations are available?

Great question! You can customize your core values to match your organization's to boost and track alignment. You can change your currency from the 🏆 emoji (our default) to any emoji of your choice. You can swap our logo for your own. You can also set up company culture rewards such as, "Lunch with the CEO," "Buy a book on us," and so much more!

Who can give or receive recognition?

While we recommend a peer to peer set up where anyone in your organization can give or receive recognition, you can set up Assembly however you want. If you need to limit the people who can give or receive recognition, that's perfectly fine and can be done from your Admin, here.

What integrations are available?

Assembly connects to the tools your employees use every day to offer an easy, seamless experience with minimal change management.  

Assembly has integrations with HCM/HRIS systems like ADP, Google, Office 365, and Slack. We also integrate with communication tools like Slack and Teams so you and your employees can access Assembly wherever they work now.

What's your average adoption rate?

That depends on the company's permissions set up. That said, over 90% of the employees on Assembly's platform are recognized on a monthly basis. That means nearly every employee across all of our customers are receiving regular recognition from their peers, managers, or leadership. We're extremely proud of this.

Must rewards be set up to use Assembly?

They are not required. You can use Assembly without having rewards set up. However, we don't recommend it if you intend to have a high adoption and usage rate. You can always keep the costs down by offering internal culture rewards that are fulfilled by you internally.

Are points required to use Assembly?

No, you can remove allowances from anyone or everyone. It's up to you but we do recommend using points whether they're worth a real dollar value or not. Companies that use points have a much higher engagement rate even if those points don't exchange for real dollars.

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