Project Management

Deprioritization: Minimize Work Clutter With the Best Tips

Noah Edis ·

Noah Edis, a seasoned technical content specialist and systems engineer, brings extensive expertise in modern software. Outside work, catch him competing in dodgeball or immersed in programming.

Deprioritization

As Garfield says, “I hate Mondays.” It’s just the start of a week, and already, there’s a lot on the line: a to-do list that’s a mile long and project updates that don’t seem to end.

What’s even more worrying is that this chaos resonates with everyone, especially your team members. A constant feeling of being overwhelmed can ultimately lead to disengagement, which costs the global economy nearly $9 trillion in lost productivity.

Managing multiple projects can easily lead to crippling organizational complexity, which is why you need always to plan ahead. But with only so many hours in a week,  you can’t do everything at once. 

What you should consider here is deprioritization – yes, the real solution to workload management is to actually deprioritize tasks. There’s an art to putting things on the back burner so you can instead focus on what truly matters. 

Deprioritization
Image: Unsplash

Deprioritization: Moving Ahead Requires Taking a Step Back

We all know about prioritization. The common practice is to decide what tasks are most important and to tackle them first. But what does the other side of the fence look like?

Deprioritizing tasks means deliberately choosing which can be postponed, scaled back, or even eliminated. This work strategy helps you focus on the stuff that really needs your attention right now and what can be let go. Most importantly, it avoids feeling overwhelmed, and trying to do everything at once.

Here’s a quick rundown of how deprioritization usually works:

  • Write down everything that needs to be done to get a comprehensive view of your workload.
  • Assess your tasks based on their importance and urgency.
  • Identify the tasks that you should consider deprioritizing.
  • Move the low-priority tasks to the bottom of your list or categorize them as backlog items.
  • Communicate with your team about which tasks you’re deprioritizing and why.

Consider the Kanban system in this case. Using Kanban, you can visually manage your tasks on a board (digital or otherwise). The different stages – “To Do,” “In Progress,” and “Done” – show the status of all your tasks at a glance.

The Kanban board also often includes a backlog column where you can place your lower-priority tasks. Revisit and re-evaluate these tasks regularly to decide if and when they should be moved back into the active workflow stages.

kanban development
Kanban development

Why Deprioritization is Your Work Best Friend

The goal of deprioritizing tasks is to have a clear mind. Instead of feeling weighed down by an endless to-do list, you get to be in control. There are a lot of benefits, and it might even be your new work best friend. Here are some common reasons why:

  • The Ultimate Stress-Reducer: Constantly juggling tasks can lead to employee burnout. Deprioritizing helps reduce the mental load and actually makes working much more enjoyable.
  • Increases Everyone’s Productivity: When you know where to focus, you’re more likely to make real progress. A targeted approach boosts productivity because everyone knows what to do and when to do it.
  • Results in Better Quality Work: Undivided attention frees the mind from thinking of too many irrelevant things and focuses on your tasks individually.
  • Maximizes Time Management Efforts: Deprioritization helps you use your time better. Knowing the tasks that can be set aside frees up a lot of time for activities that align with your goals and leads to a healthy work-life balance.
  • Helps You Make the Right Decisions: When you regularly review the urgency of your tasks, you get to develop a clearer sense of priority. This results in better decision-making skills because you know what needs your immediate attention and what can wait.
  • Encourages Some Strategic Thinking: Deprioritization requires you and your team to think more strategically about your goals and how to best achieve them.

Implementing deprioritization into your workflow can dramatically improve your task management. By deprioritizing tasks, you can work smarter, not harder. 

prioritization meeting
Image: Unsplash

Best Ways to Deprioritize Tasks Effectively

Have you heard of Parkinson’s Law? It’s a great principle related to deprioritizing tasks. It basically states that “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” 

In other words, the more time you give a certain task, the more difficulty it builds.

Say you’re given a project due in a week but should only take a day to finish. At first, there’s relief as you think you have more than enough time to finish. But, the extra time results in the task growing bigger and more complex than what was initially intended.

Without clear boundaries on when to start and finish tasks, you’re at risk of allocating your time and resources inefficiently. This also overworks your team really badly. 

Deprioritization avoids this by knowing which tasks to set aside, so you’re left with the tasks to prioritize. This should end up with a much more realistic timeframe for your pipeline.

That being said, starting out deprioritization from scratch can be overwhelming. But don’t worry – I’ve got you covered. 

Here are the tested and proven ways to apply the concept of deprioritization in your organization to manage your workload the right way: 

1. Get stuff done with a project management tool

Deprioritizing tasks means having a strong project management tool like Teamhood. With the right tech, your business can soar without the hassle. And with Teamhood, you can take advantage of a Kanban-powered workspace, including status groups, nested swimlanes, and rows, to do much more with pinpoint precision.

Teamhood’s Projects Prioritization List, for instance, lets you use its List view to visualize item details and make the right decisions based on priority. Here’s how it works:

  • Rows categorize your items. This divides your list into clear sections that can be collapsed and expanded easily.
  • Edit the fields (columns) in your List view to suit your needs. You can choose from all the default fields available and edit them as needed. This flexibility lets you only see the information relevant to your current priorities, making it easier to identify and set aside lower-priority tasks.
  • Create custom fields if you need to add more specific information to your items, a handy feature that helps you tailor task details to fit your specific workflow.
  • Add tags for an additional layer of information. Mark clients, incentives, projects, or other relevant categories.

With these features, Teamhood allows you to see the big picture, helping you organize and deprioritize tasks consistently. This leads to a more productive and less stressful workday for everyone. Allow yourself to set aside less critical tasks without losing sight of them.

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2. Visualize to maximize

Just having a large to-do list doesn’t cut it anymore. You need to take the extra step to time block your work so you know how long it’ll take. 

People often underestimate how long tasks will take and overestimate how much they can fit into a day. Remember that this leads to burnout and so much resource is wasted when time isn’t managed right.

By plotting all your priorities into your schedule, you can get a clear visualization of your availability. You basically gain a realistic perspective on what you can actually take on. 

This approach not only streamlines your workflow but also reduces stress – making your workdays more efficient and manageable.

3. It’s okay to let go

It’s perfectly fine to let some things go – that includes your tasks. Reduce the load on your weekly plate by delegating, bumping, or dropping the tasks for which you don’t have the time or bandwidth.

When time-blocking priorities, be sure to review your to-do list. But deciding which ones to let go can be tough. Strategies like the Eisenhower Matrix help you categorize tasks based on urgency and importance.

  • Both Important and Urgent: These tasks should be prioritized and scheduled on your calendar right away. Complete these tasks without delay.
  • Important but Not Urgent: These tasks are usually long-term goals. Plan to fit them into your week if there’s time, but you can also schedule them for future dates.
  • Not Important but Urgent: These tasks require your immediate attention but don’t impact your long-term goals that much. As a leader, you can delegate these tasks to someone else so you can free up your time for more important work.
  • Neither Important nor Urgent: These tasks should be dropped from your weekly plan altogether. These can be distracting and add unnecessary work clutter.
eisenhower matrix
Eisenhower matrix

You might forget, but we’re only human. Getting rid of non-essentials can be such a productivity hack that improves your outlook in the workplace.

4. There’s no shame in saying “no”

Beyond time blocking, it’s smart to respectfully decline projects and meetings that you can’t accommodate. Now, I know that saying “no” at work is not as easy as saying no to a night out with friends, but it’s a good habit to practice for effective time management.

Be honest and direct about your workload and priorities. People are more likely to understand if you’re straightforward about your limits. You can also offer alternatives or suggest a colleague who can help. Refer to your prioritized task list when declining new requests to support your decision.

There’s absolutely no shame in protecting your time and bandwidth. This helps you avoid overcommitment and allows you to deliver high-quality work consistently. 

5. Remove those pesky distractions

Deprioritization requires removing your work distractions. This is anything that pulls your attention away from the important tasks at hand, and that includes low-priority tasks. Here are the many other common work distractions:

  • Having to constantly check and respond to emails.
  • Browsing social media platforms, trapped in an endless scroll.
  • Unplanned meetings that interrupt your workflow.
  • Non-urgent calls and text messages.
  • Background noise in the office or at home.
  • Attempting to handle multiple tasks simultaneously.
  • A disorganized desk or digital workspace.

Without the distractions, you can focus better on your high-priority tasks and maintain a productive workflow. It’s a must to always protect your schedule from getting too full.

6. Nobody gets left behind

A successful organization depends on teamwork. Your team is there to provide valuable insights into what tasks to consider. With multiple minds working together, you can create the best work pipeline.

Taking collaboration seriously doesn’t just make for a better workplace, either. There’s an impressive 21% boost in profitability. It’s a win-win situation.

Collaboration leads to more effective decision-making and increased buy-in from team members, and this leads to a more cohesive approach to managing workloads. 

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Image: Pexels

7. Take care of yourself and your team

Productive workplace = Healthy team. 

While it might seem counterproductive, not overloading your work can help you finish tasks more. When you overwork yourself, you’re more likely to feel stressed, exhausted, and overwhelmed. It just makes work so much harder to complete.

Create boundaries that prevent burnout and ensure you and your team have the energy and focus to tackle high-priority tasks. This means establishing a clear start and end time for your workday. Stick to your schedule as much as possible. Avoid the temptation to work long hours just to get more tasks done.

When you establish healthy work habits, you can create a positive work environment where everyone feels valued and supported. 

8. Review and reassess your priorities 

Think of deprioritizing tasks as cleaning out your closet regularly. It’s all about figuring out what you have and need while removing the unnecessary stuff.

When you make reassessments, you’re basically taking a step back to evaluate your current workload. This identifies what tasks are done, what are still important, and what can be set aside. 

Some low-priority tasks can then also be moved to higher-priority tasks. It’s a matter of reviewing what’s on hand and staying on top of things. Staying flexible and open to change makes sure that your time and energy are focused on the tasks that will have the greatest impact. 

Deprioritize to Prioritize

Deprioritization is a powerful strategy for streamlining your workload to achieve better results. Don’t hesitate to deprioritize tasks when necessary – it’s a strategic move that can lead to greater success in both your personal and professional life.

Truly, there’s power in setting aside the less important tasks. 

And for even more support in managing your workload, consider turning to Teamhood. This robust platform has a range of features designed to simplify work management. 

Welcome Teamhood into the team and elevate your productivity today.

Start Managing Your Projects

With a Leading Kanban Software

Get Started

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