Below are the steps to making a powerful list that will offer you confidence that you are doing what you need to be doing, when you need to be doing it.
1) Write your list
Your first step is to write down all the tasks you can foresee having to do today and in the future—this is your master task list. Tasks that you don’t see doing anytime soon can be put on a “Someday” list.
Once you’ve chosen the specific tasks you wish to accomplish today, write them in your planner and organize your list by context. Simply put your work tasks at the top, your home tasks at the bottom and any errands or on-the-go tasks in the middle of your list. Some individuals like to go a step further and differentiate their contexts by using different colored inks.
2) Categorize your tasks by urgency and importance
This is an important step because it ultimately determines the path of your productivity.
Categorize your tasks with a coding system, using letters and numbers:
- Scan through your list and select items that absolutely must be done today. Assign those the letter A. Be sure to be selective here—these are strictly time-sensitive tasks that must get done today.
- Review the list for tasks that need to get done and assign the letter B to those. While not urgent, B-level tasks include the most important steps you take toward reaching your goals. You must get them done, but you won’t suffer consequences if they’re not completed today.
- Put the letter C by items that are neither urgent nor important. These are items you want to do, but they can wait for another day. C-level tasks are the expendable part of your daily plan.
3) Give your tasks order
Now, number your tasks. Number each task in an order that suits your daily flow. Take into consideration your own patterns of productivity, daily energy swings, anticipated locations, and how one task affects another.
As you complete your list organization, it’s important to keep in mind that new tasks will undoubtedly pop up as you go about your day. Use the A-B-Cs and 1-2-3s of your list as a decision scale for choosing where this new task fits in. For example, you may have to decide if returning a phone call (a “B” task) is more important than meeting a project deadline (an “A” task).
4) Follow through on your list
The final step in prioritizing your list deals with your own behavior as you go through the day. The best course of action is for you to honor the priorities you’ve assigned to your tasks. By being impeccable with your word, you will enjoy better productivity and balance in your life.
Let us know if this method of prioritization works for you, and be sure to include new tips of your own.
Get more tips on planning, organizing and productivity for every facet of your life by visiting the AT-A-GLANCE Success Center.