One of the biggest assets a career-woman can have is a strong work ethic. I love working with people who have a tenacity about them and just get. it. done. (type A personalities, ya feel me?!) Go-getters make sure that every need is met and are always willing to take on the extra load.

Now, re-read the above statement. Do you notice the problem word? Always. The mindset of “always” is the biggest blessing and detriment to the woman hell-bent on reaching her goals. If you’re living life with an “all guns blazing” mentality, by default, your ability to prioritize will take a backseat.

If you own a business, the ability to prioritize the most important need from all of the other needs zipping around in your brain is not a recommendation; it will become your lifeblood. However, I think this skill is necessary for anyone to be the most productive employee or employer they can be.

Picture this – your alarm clock sounds. With closed eyes, you reach for your phone on the bedside table and allow the bright light from your screen to make you squint into a state of “sort of awake.” With a slight feeling of terror, you click the mail icon and watch as countless emails pour into your inbox. And just like that, you’re swimming. A client has complained, your co-worker has called in sick, you missed a deadline, and a new project has just been given to you. Your heart begins to race before your first cup of coffee, and you wonder how on earth you will manage to get anything done without canceling your social (or Netflix, no shame) calendar for the next month?!

If this scenario sounds familiar, try these three tips to give yourself some peace of mind and work on your efficiency in the workplace:

  1. Is it a matter of life and death?

Most of us don’t work in jobs that are actually “life and death” scenarios, but regardless, that’s the first question I ask myself when determining my to-do list. Does it have to be done right now? Are you the only person who can do it? Will it prevent you from moving forward with another task? If your answer is YES, then do it FIRST.

  1. Can you say no?

Go-getters aren’t comfortable with saying the word “no.” It puts a bad taste in our mouths, and we roll it around on our tongues until we can justify turning it into a “yes.” If someone needs extra help or if an opportunity to advance oneself comes about, we find ourselves blindly saying YES before we have even debated the impact of that decision. In order to do one thing really well, we sometimes have to say no to the less-important things.

  1. Can you do it during “free time”?

As a kid, my parents had certain rules about free time. If I wanted to watch TV or call a friend, I had to have my responsibilities done first. It’s the same thing in the adult world. If you want to pick up an extra task, don’t get so sidetracked or excited by it that it takes over your responsibilities. Get your work done first, and then see if you can put in the extra effort during your personal time. Don’t volunteer to work on a side project all day if it means that you are doing your real work until 3:00 am. No one can function like that long-term, so do yourself and your body some good, and get the pressing stuff done first.

The ultimate goal in prioritizing is learning that not every good thing has to be your thing. If you’ve been blessed with a lot of talent and a strong work ethic, that’s a beautiful gift. In order to utilize your gifts in the best way possible, you have to learn which things demand your immediate attention and which ones can be placed on the back burner. If you’re living exhausted and run-down, you can’t change the world with your big dreams. Organize, prioritize, and go after it.