Prioritizing is a bit like eating a green frog, which, according to Mark Twain, is "best done first thing in the morning." That's fine if you are a morning person and tremendously disciplined. But, I have to wonder if Mark Twain was a morning person, because eating a green frog at any time of the day is challenging much less on an empty stomach.
I propose that tackling your priority, or your highest value task, at your peak performance time has the highest return of satisfaction in the least amount of time. And, that leaves you more time in your day to pause and reflect and smell the roses. But more on that later!
Scheduling my highest priority task in the morning is important because I AM a morning person. Putting off an important task until later in the day is a bit like hanging a 100 pound weight over my head by a tiny thread. It hovers and threatens and demands my attention. I have noticed that when I don't begin my work day with my highest value task, I am much less productive and easily distracted all day until I pause, focus my energy on the most important thing, and get it done. Once I follow my own advice everything else seems to fall into place.
But what if you work best later in the day? I ask you to seriously consider what times of the day you do your best work. Consider when your energy for tackling mental work is at its peak, and when your physical energy is at its peak. Even when your most important task is something you are anticipating with great enthusiasm, it can be difficult and actually take more time than allotted if scheduled during your lower peak times.
Breaking your projects down into tasks is an excellent beginning to organizing your time. It is equally important to plan your most difficult tasks when you have the mental and physical energy to match the task at hand. Once you have established your patterns for productivity, you can block out those times on your calendar using them for your most important tasks. Eventually this habit will become second nature and you will thank yourself daily. And, perhaps, you will even have a little time left to savor a few pages of a book at the end of your day!