Lesson 1, Topic 1
In Progress

Second Technique – Establish your Priorities

Suram February 11, 2021

Prioritize – This is Step-1 of Time Management. Prioritize means ‘treating something as very important’, so assessing the priority of the tasks gives an understanding of the

Managing your time is essential to ensure your quality of work. Be clear about the priorities that you set, whether it is family tasks, office-related tasks.

So, we are going to discuss the following:

  1. To-do List of Tasks
  2. Refining To-do List
  3. The Backburner
  1. To-do List of Tasks

Learning how to prioritize efficiently is the number one way to boost your productivity tenfold and we have identified the necessary points to consider when prioritizing tasks. We all know how to make a “to-do” list, but this isn’t enough. You need to figure out which items are essential and which aren’t important at all. Start by making a list of everything you have to do for the day. Don’t worry about prioritization now; just get everything listed down.

How many items do you have? If you have more than seven or eight, you need to trim your list. Take out any tasks that you perform every day, like checking email. You can also take out anything that will happen regardless, such as a phone call you’re expecting.

Look at your list and ask yourself, “If I do just one thing today, what should it be?” Put this on the top of your list.

Now, look back at the other items and repeat for the second task. Keep doing this, and eventually, you’ll end up with a list of things you have to do in order of importance.

One way to prioritize without getting bogged down with unnecessary tasks is to consider the direct Impact each task will have on your business or career. Try to assess which task will directly or indirectly impact your income and goals. Work these high-impact tasks which should be of the highest priority.

2. Refining your To-do List

We’ve covered the simplest method to arranging daily tasks, but sometimes this isn’t enough. Here are some tips for further refining your list:

  1. Rank and prioritize tasks
  2. Set reasonable and realistic deadlines
  3. Categorize as per area of work and Time
  4. Break up big tasks into small tasks

2.A. Rank Items – Create a Scoring and Ranking System

To review the To-do list, Sunday would be the best time as you would start working fresh from Monday. You should be able to perceive how you’re going to spend your Monday morning.

Identify all your goals for the week (both personal and official) and write them down. Firstly, list down all the tasks as it gives a clear understanding of the way you work for the week. 

Then, rank all tasks based on scoring and ranking system as:

1-Needs to be done today on priority

2-Should be completed today

3-Doesn’t need to be done today

4-Can be delegated to others

Plug your items into these categories, and then prioritize within the category. This is helpful, especially if you have many small things to do.

Now, you will be able to get a picture of what all needs to be done. When planning, consider some unexpected activities.

Once the week list is prepared, scrutinize the list for the next day. In the same way, review for the previous day on the next day.

2.B. Set Deadlines for Everything

Set a deadline for everything you have to do, even if there really isn’t any time pressure. Make the deadline specific to not only a day but also a time of day. If one task is “due” in the morning and another in the afternoon, you know the morning task is more important.

  • Review the To-do List Thoroughly. Identify all the tasks for the day and week, check how many tasks are there, how many of them should be actually listed.
  • Identify the long term and short time priorities.
  • Estimate the time required considering some extra time.
  • Be prepared for Interruptions because anything can come up. If no interruptions, the time can be best used to complete the next scheduled task.

Avoid over-scheduling. Once you fall behind, it becomes impossible to catch up. Leave room for the inevitable emergencies and requests from the boss.  

2.C. Categorize

Categorization to be done in two ways:

a) Categorize by Work Areas

Categorize the tasks based on personal and work-related tasks, this categorization is done to ensure that the timings or activities are not overlapping or impacting either of them. 

b) Categorize by Time

If you have different tasks to complete in the morning versus the afternoon, you can create categories by time of day, or small to-do lists for each part of the day. There would be times when it would be suitable for conducting a task. For example, scheduling a regular meeting in the morning will not be the right option as it could take away the day with more tasks adding up or members not being able to attend leading to waste of some time. These could be better scheduled in the latter part of the day when you are certain that the meeting can take place.

2.D. Break up Big Tasks

For anything that takes longer than a day, break it up into daily milestones and put these into your to-do list.

Some tasks would be too lengthy, yet important, and can still be worked on a daily basis like working on a project that involves daily status updates. So, ensure that the work is ample to be considered on a daily basis. Breaking down the work into smaller areas of work will tend to complete better. Ensure that the deadlines of the split tasks are met by considering the deadlines of the split tasks.

Remember that the goal is to have a simple system that works for you. Use whichever methods make prioritizing easier for you.

3. The Back-Burner

Ideally, you should have three to five tasks on your daily to-do list. You have to break the habit of thinking that you need to do everything. Be ruthless in throwing out tasks that aren’t essential right now.

So, what do you do with the items you put on the “backburner?”

If your backburner tasks can’t be thrown out, they have to be treated, so follow ‘The Backburner Treatment’ to cure.

The Backburner Treatment

  1. Choose a day and time to take care of each of these items.
  2. Set aside sometime during the day when you go over these less important things, such as at the end of a workday when you’re still at your desk or computer.
  3. Delegate these tasks to someone else who can carry them out for you.
  4. Make a secondary list of tasks to get done in case you finish your main list early and have time left over.