Prioritizing your task list


You have a list. On that list are things you must do, things you should do, and things you want to do.

You want to do your most important tasks—the ones that put food on the table and help you achieve your personal and professional goals. And you want to have some time to do the things you enjoy. Because all work and no play isn’t good for your health.

How do you choose? How do you prioritize your list?

Start by dividing the list into three parts:

  1. Things that provide you with the most value. The “20% activities that produce 80% of your results”. Activities that have the largest impact on your goals and overall happiness. Your “most important tasks (MITs).”
  2. Tasks you just need to get done. They might not contribute much to the mix, but they keep the wheels greased and the machine running. These are your routines and recurring tasks; the boring stuff.
  3. Everything else.

You want to spend more time on the first list and less time on the other two.

If you can, do the tasks on the first list before you do the others. Do them early in the day, when you have the most energy.

To give you even more time and energy to do them, cut down on the tasks on the second and third lists.

Delegate, automate, eliminate, or postpone.

Because your most important tasks are more important.

On my list, each workday I usually have 1 to 3 MITs. These are my top priority for the day and I almost always get them done.

I have 3-5 other tasks I want to do today but it’s okay if I do them tomorrow or later this week or next.

And I have 5 or 6 routine tasks, usually small and easy to do, and I usually do all of them.

If I get everything done early enough, I look at my list for tomorrow or later in the week and pick something else to do.

But only if I want to.

But I rarely want to because all work and no play isn’t good for my health.