Prioritized to do list is not working for me

by Margaret

I use the ABC method to prioritize my tasks in my to do list, where A is important, B tasks are of secondary importance, and C tasks are unimportant.

Are there other methods that people use to prioritize there tasks as this is not really working for me.

Any help appreciated.


Alison’s (AllieKreative) reply: Margaret, try also having a 1-3 system also. But most importantly, I keep a grid pad of paper beside my desk at all times.

Each week I'll prepare a system that has been most effective. This system consists of creating 7 columns and 3 rows.

The top row will have the following categories, i.e. personal, technical, marketing, other, prospects, clients. (left to right) The row below will have the days of the week (including weekends), this is where I list the tasks to do that day. The row below will have specific times blocked out to complete the task.

Try it!

Keep in mind that this row is only to be completed the day of when organizing your day. You do not want to be too distracted and overwhelmed by what's ahead.

Janet’s reply: GTD solved the model of prioritisation by using the natural prioritization method

Kell’ reply:Thanks so much for your comments Alison and Janet. I really like the idea of keeping a time management grid of the things that you need to do in the week. Importantly a schedule of when you are going to do it is there – as there is such a big difference to saying “I shall do it tomorrow” to “I’ll do it at 10am tomorrow”.

This is the difference between people who procrastinate and those that do not. Those that do not decide what they are going to do and when they are going to do it.

I also like Janet’s idea of GTD. Getting Things Done (coming from David Allen’s work) is probably one of the best workflow management systems around. However, I feel it falls over a little on the scheduling and effectiveness area (just my opinion).

Margaret, it is not wonder you feel overwhelmed and keeping to-do lists is not working for you. This is because to-do lists don’t really cut the grade in today’s world of work.

On the one hand to-do lists are great for a couple of reasons....they enable you to get your tasks out of your
head and onto paper and you feel good when you tick them off.

Gee, I have done things that weren't on my to do list and found that I have written them down after just so I could tick them off :)

But in today's world of information overflow and competing tasks a to-do list is inadequate. In fact a to-do list will lead to frustration....we all know the feeling "we've been working hard all day only to get through half the list"!!!

In today's world of constant interruptions and distractions (yes, according to a study out of the University of California white collar workers in an open plan office are interrupted once every 3 minutes) we need to have a plan that has breathing space.

This is why I recommend that you plan weekly, and act daily.

Think of all your high impact activities...those activities that are critical to your long-term performance, and ensure that you schedule them into a weekly plan.

This way, at least you ensure that you get your top priorities done!

This weekly plan needs to have breathing deal with those interruptions and distractions that are going to happen.

Here are some tips and time management templates for developing your weekly plan.

  1. Download a weekly plan or create a weekly plan in your personal organizer or time management planner.

  2. I think that most people have a clear idea of what is important in their role at work...the problem is protecting their time to ensure they get those things done.

    Having a long-term vision of where you want to go provides you with direction and focus. Personal goal setting clarifies what is important for you and helps you to say "No" to all those other competing demands.

  3. Schedule time for your email and do not check in-between. We recommend 2 times a day, but given that the average worker checks their email 40 times a day this is going to be a weaning process.

  4. Ensure that you schedule meetings with others and with yourself. Meetings with yourself allow you to make time for those things you have to do.

Setting a weekly plan is about ensuring that you enough time on those things that are important to you and your work.

Be careful not to over-schedule your time and end up doing activities that don't reflect their values or priorities.

All the best,

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