In this article, I will gather all the key information about how to prioritize. Right prioritization plays a very important role in the life of any person, it is important in all spheres of human life and in life in general. Properly set priorities allow you to achieve great success in any business, to realize all your vital goals and dreams.
Prioritization is one of the most important tools of time management - the art of time management. Very often people do not have time, do not do the necessary things, do not achieve their goals just because they don’t know how to prioritize correctly. They rush to carry out all the tasks at the same time and as a result cannot perform any of them qualitatively, especially the most important and necessary tasks. The correct prioritization will help to avoid this mistake and significantly increase personal effectiveness. To get started, let's figure out what it is.
At first glance, nothing complicated. But in practice, everything is not so simple ... If you often do not have time to do something important, if you constantly postpone important things for later, if you constantly clutch at several things at once, you definitely should think about how to prioritize correctly. And then I will offer you for this a whole range of tools of varying degrees of effectiveness, from which you can choose and use those that you like and will suit you specifically.
Priority setting methods.
So, consider the diverse methods of prioritization. I have already described some of them in more detail in other articles, so I will give links - click on them to familiarize yourself in more detail.
Eisenhower matrix. A very popular and effective way to prioritize correctly, which is actively discussed in various literature, at seminars and trainings of personal growth. The essence of this method is to distribute all the necessary tasks according to two criteria: by degree of importance and urgency. Thus, a kind of matrix is obtained - a table in which the priority of doing things decreases from the upper left to the lower right.
Using the Eisenhower matrix, one can almost completely exclude the possibility that some important and urgent matter will not be completed, and this is already not enough.
Read more about this prioritization method in a separate article with illustrations: The Eisenhower Matrix.
To-do list compilation. Many people, thinking about how to prioritize, use this particular method because it is very simple, understandable and affordable. The bottom line is to plan your time by compiling to-do lists and following this list. In this case, the most important cases should be put at the top of the list, and then, as the priority decreases.
To make lists as efficient as possible, a number of rules should be followed. I wrote more about this in the article How to Make a To-Do List?
Pareto Rule. Prioritizing correctly can also be done using the famous Pareto rule (or law). Its essence is that only 20% of the efforts bring 80% of the result and vice versa: 80% of the efforts bring only 20% of the result. Prioritization in this case is very simple: you need to highlight your 20% of the most effective cases (based on an analysis of existing data) and concentrate your efforts on them. They will be the highest priority for you, and all the remaining 80% - secondary.
More details about the operation of this law and its application can be found in the article Pareto Principle (Pareto Law). Rule 20/80.
Descartes Square. A rather complicated method of prioritization, requiring more time and mental costs than others, but also more accurate, more effective. It is best to use this method to prioritize globally, for example, for a year, for several years, or even for life. For daily planning, it will be inconvenient.
How to apply this method for planning? It is necessary to consider each of its goals from four sides:
- What will happen if I do this?
- What will happen if I do not?
- What will happen if I do this?
- What will happen if I do not?
Each of your answers can be given a certain weight, and according to the sum of these weights, prioritize your activities: from greater to lesser.
For more details on such a technique with an example, see the article Descartes Square - Decision Making Technique.
ABC method. A very simplified, and therefore affordable way to prioritize, which is to distribute all your affairs into only 3 categories of importance:
- A - very important,
- B - not very important,
- C is not at all important.
Accordingly, cases from category A will have the highest priority for you, followed by cases from category B, and lastly, cases from category C. Despite all its simplicity, the ABC method almost completely eliminates the possibility of “losing” and not fulfilling the important task, so it can be used.
Olympic system. Prioritization according to this principle occurs through a consistent pairwise “competition” - a comparison of tasks in order to determine the winner-finalist.
Suppose you have 16 tasks (the number can be any that you need). You hold a pairwise “tournament” between them - 1/8 finals, choosing a priority task from each pair. There are 8 cases left - with them you also arrange 1/4 finals, in which 4 semifinalists are determined. Then 1/2 finals to identify 2 finalists. And finally, the final, where the winning goal is determined. She will have the highest priority for you, the second semi-finalist - the next in importance, the quarter-finalists - the next, etc.
The method of pairwise comparison. This prioritization option is similar to the previous one, but a little more complicated, since you need to compare tasks here according to several criteria that are most important to you. It is convenient for each of these criteria to give its own weight, for example, on a scale of 1 to 5.
For example, you choose where to invest, which is more important for you. And compare the options according to 3 criteria: profitability, availability, risk. Choose between 4 options: bank deposit, securities, currency, gold. Compare all these options in pairs with each other for each criterion individually. Thus, you get the most profitable option, the most affordable and the least risky. If risk has the greatest weight for you, and accessibility is the least, then the least risky method is the top priority, then the most profitable, and then the most affordable. If by some criteria the results are the same - generally excellent, the “winner” is immediately visible.
Priority of mutual influence. When using this method of prioritization, all tasks facing a person are painted and it is estimated how their implementation affects each other. For example, the goals “buy an apartment” are influenced by the goals “find a new job”, “improve qualifications”, “create a source of passive income”. This is convenient to do by drawing all the targets in circles and connecting them together with arrows.
The highest priority will be given to the goal that is affected by the greatest number of others, that is, to which the greatest number of arrows leads. And so on.
Contribution to global goals. Prioritization method, completely opposite to the previous one. In this case, it is worth starting the same way as the method of mutual influence, only the highest priority is set not to the goal to which the greatest number of arrows leads, but to the one from which the greatest number of them leaves.
That is, not the global goal, but the task, the fulfillment of which will contribute to the achievement of more global goals, will have the highest priority.
Multivariate analysis method. This way to prioritize can be attributed to the most difficult, but also the most accurate. Here it is necessary to highlight a number of factors by which you will compare your tasks and give each case an assessment of each factor, for example, on a 5-point scale. It’s convenient to arrange all this in the form of a table, where your tasks will stand vertically and assessment factors horizontally.
As a result, prioritization will occur in descending order of the total score of each task.
Well, in conclusion, speaking about how to prioritize, I would like to recall the so-called "Folk methods", from some of them came the well-known catchphrases for all of you. I draw your attention to the fact that these are incorrect, ineffective methods of setting priorities, I just decided to mention them to show how not to do it.
- Target method - do what is first to catch my eye: I see the goal - I shoot.
- Squeaky wheel method - do what is most annoying (for example, the boss “drips into the brain” with some kind of work - which means that she is in the highest priority).
- Roast rooster method - the highest priority is when the “roasted cock pecked”, that is, when it is already strongly pressed, and you can’t continue to delay.
- Lazy method - First of all, to do what is easiest, which does not bother, and put off complex and serious matters until the last.
I also want to remind you of the rule of 2 minutes, which says that if it takes less than 2 minutes to complete any business, it should be done immediately. Putting this rule into practice will allow you to avoid the accumulation of a huge pile of outstanding small tasks.
Now you know how to prioritize correctly. As you can see, there are many methods (and this is not all, only the most popular). Choose what you like best and act. You can follow the principle of “from simple to complex,” that is, first set priorities in some simpler way, then gradually move on to more complex and effective ones. The main thing is to understand that prioritization is very important, and it really should be paid attention.
I wish you success in mastering time management and increasing personal effectiveness! See you on the financial genius!
Exploring your life
Before setting priorities, one needs to gain control over the situation and time, and for this it is necessary to find out what is happening in life.
How did you spend your time last month?
To change your attitude to time, you need to evaluate it. Write down everything you’ve done in recent weeks.
How much time do you devote to each area of life? The answer to this question will help you understand what your priorities are right now.
Evaluate how satisfied you are with how you spend your time.
Think about the most important areas of your life: career, relationships, personal development, finances, health, family.
Evaluate each area in terms of how important it is to you. Use a scale from 1 to 10, where 1 is completely unimportant, and 10 is vital.
Now evaluate your progress in each of the areas. How satisfied are you with how much time you spend on it? 1 to 10.
Examine the areas that you rated from 8 to 10. If there are gaps of 2 or more points between the importance of the area and satisfaction with it, this indicates a poor balance. You are not wasting time on what matters.
Set new priorities to do more important things.
The third step: find out what actions, actions and tasks are missing in your life. Write down what comes to mind when you read the following questions:
- What is the most important thing in my life right now?
- Which area would I like to devote more time to?
- Where do I need to spend less time?
- What areas require my attention now? (e.g. health, family, finance)
Record your actions in the order that matters most. This is your new priority list.
Let us dwell on this step in more detail.
Method One: in a year
Suppose you have three possible ways of development of events in life, you can go only one at a time. How can you make the right decision?
When faced with a difficult choice, imagine your life after 12 months. You are a year older, have achieved some of your goals, and look back today. Get away from the present with all its worries and problems. What did you do? What went wrong and what happened? What activities helped to quickly realize the most important goals?
A simple step-by-step process of this method:
- Introduce yourself and your life in a year.
- Think about how you achieved all your goals.
- Create a to-do list that will lead to this.
Introducing yourself in a year (five, ten years), you can look at your life from a completely different perspective. You will most likely understand what works and what doesn't. Using this information, you can change your priorities and choose more effective options.
Method Two: Reverse Thinking
Usually, when setting priorities, you come across a to-do list and try to figure out which one is more important. But not with the Reverse Thinking method.
You need to start with a task that you consider your top priority. For example, complete the project before the end of the day. Thus, priority No. 1 is to complete the project. To make sure that this task is really the most important, start comparing it with others that are on the main list.
Assume priority # 2: view all business metrics and adjust the schedule if necessary.
Thinking about long-term rewards and the impact of each type of activity, compare their possible results and make sure that priority No. 1 is really more important than No. 2. For example, the work of the entire company and your prize depends on whether you complete the project. Thus, finding out what is less important for you, you can determine what is more important.
Method Three: Balanced Scorecard
This method (Balanced Scorecard) is mentioned in 4,000 books on Amazon. This, at a minimum, indicates that he is worthy of attention.
The biggest advantage of this method is its ability to determine the actions and goals that bring the most value to several areas. If you don’t know which task represents the most significant benefit at several levels, take out a pen and paper and write down the following. But first think about your goals and expected results. Set realistic expectations for your skill set and the amount of time available.
Step one: indicate your goals.
Find out what really matters for success. Make a list of goals and expected results that you would like to achieve by the end of the day, week, or month.
For example, as a project manager, you may be interested in the following goals: to complete projects A and B, increase productivity, increase monthly income.
Step Two: Outline all your tasks.
To find the tasks with the highest benefit, you must first determine all your priorities. Create a table with goals and objectives that fall under each activity.
Purpose: to complete project A. Activity: meet with the team, create an action plan for it, track the results of their work.
Goal: increase productivity. Activities: to improve your schedule, meet with the team and acquaint them with it, remove unnecessary tasks or outsource the least important ones, analyze what matters take the most time.
Step Three: Create a Balanced Scorecard for Priorities.
If you have four main tasks, draw four intersecting circles and write the name of your goals in each. Then evaluate what actions lead to duplication of benefits, that is, they help to achieve several goals at the same time.
For example, a meeting with a client can lead to an accelerated process of working on a project and an increase in monthly income. Analyzing your team’s work leads to increased productivity and faster completion of projects.
“Two birds with one stone” - this expression is the best suited to this method. Apply it in all areas of your life and you will see that one task can affect several of them. The more thoughtfully you analyze, the more accurately you will set priorities.
Method Four: Covey Matrix
You have probably already heard and read about the matrix, but it cannot be left out of our list: this method is too good. It also helps in prioritizing and reducing stress. When you understand that you are doing everything right, the tension goes away.
The famous writer for personal growth, Stephen Covey, proposed to divide a sheet of paper into four sections, draw a line across and a line from top to bottom. Think about what you’ve been doing recently and put them in one of four quadrants:
- Important and urgent.
- Important and not urgent.
- Unimportant and urgent.
- Unimportant and not urgent.
Most of your affairs should be kept in the quadrant “important and urgent” and not allowed to go into “important and urgent”. But unimportant urgent and not urgent should be strictly filtered, a lot of refuse.
The simple thought that the Covey matrix brings us to is that blockages and rummages should not be allowed in important matters. This is fraught with errors, omissions, conflicts and may adversely affect life. Проанализируйте свою жизнь: что из важного станет срочным совсем скоро? Список может содержать десятки разных дел. Это то, что нужно планировать и к чему стоит приступать уже сейчас.
Метод пятый: ABCDE
Мотивационный спикер Брайан Трейси очень любит простые и эффективные методики. Его главное кредо: думай, планируй и работай быстрее. He uses this approach in his strategy called ABCDE.
Here's how it works: write out on a piece of paper all the things that you need to complete over the next month. This alone will help to feel relieved, because to see the list of goals in front of you is to remove the fog from your head.
Next, assign the tasks status.
Tasks A are the most important.
These are the most important things that have significant consequences for your destiny. They may not be very pleasant, but they must be completed - and the sooner the better.
If you do not complete these tasks, you will lose money, health, a loved one, maybe even your life. In the words of Tracy himself, these are the “frogs” that need to be eaten. These are the things that must be done first.
If you have many tasks A, you need to prioritize them. Now the most important thing will look like A-1, the second most important thing is A-2, then A-3, etc.
TasksB have lesser consequences.
Performing Type B tasks also has minor consequences. Can they be sacrificed? It all depends on the situation. For example, if you have task A, but at the moment you can’t deal with it, immediately start with B. And vice versa, do not engage in procrastination and self-deception if task A can be completed now.
If you have an unfinished project that will affect your fate, then do not clean up until it is completed.
Tasks C have no consequences.
Type C tasks are something that would be nice to do, but that does not have any consequences, whether you do it or not. For example: a call to a friend. Such activities do not affect your life.
Type C tasks cannot be performed if A or B remain.
TasksD can be delegated to someone.
Tasks D can be safely assigned to someone else. This helps free up more time on tasks A.
A simple example: invite a cleaning lady instead of cleaning up herself.
TasksE needs to be removed from the to-do list.
Tasks of type E are not tasks at all. Gossip, video games, social networks, aimless surfing - all that does not affect your life and that you should not waste time in the presence of more important tasks. They can be replaced with type C - instead of social networks, call a friend.
Make a list of important things to do.
This is a very good practice. You need to make two lists.
First: cases that represent the big picture. For example, learning English, reading three books on communication with people and introducing tips into life, creating a startup.
Second: what you need to do every day. It can be repetitive exercises: exercises, reading, meditation.
It is important to break the cases from the first list into components and start to carry them out. In parallel, make sure that tasks from the second list are also completed. Balance is what allows you to live a full life.
Find out what your core values and principles are.
Values and principles are the rules according to which people live. They are especially useful when you are faced with a difficult life situation. For example, to act honestly or dishonestly in business? Your moral principles will help answer this question.
The principles and values are also good because they allow you to look at the big picture. Sometimes we are so focused on the details that we do not understand what we are doing and why.
Find out what your most expensive time habits are.
Almost every person does something that drains time. He has an excuse: I worked hard, and now I am resting. But is sitting on social networks a vacation? Many people get stressed out of this habit.
Make a list of time eaters. Find out how many hours they take away daily. And a week? This invaluable time can be spent on something more important. For example, for tasks of type A according to the method of Brian Tracy.
Find goals for your priorities.
If you have a goal tied to priority, then working on its achievement will be much easier. What is the difference? For example, communicating with people may be your priority because you are shy. And the goal may be reading books on communication, attending events, getting to know a certain person.
Perhaps this is the most effective advice that you need to listen to immediately after you set your priorities. It allows you to stick to and not forget about them. After all, how often have you tried to introduce something into your life and gradually forgot about it? We started running every day, after a week we ran 3 days a week, and a month later they were lying on the couch and thought that what kind of run was there, are you getting so tired?
Remind yourself every day of what your priorities are. A set of colorful stickers costs a penny, and the benefit can be invaluable. Post them in your apartment, use reminders on your phone or laptop, bombard your psyche with this information and do not let yourself forget about it.
Prioritization is a process that requires the development of many skills. You need to learn the art of time management, be able to make lists and much more. Here is a list of books that will be useful at the start:
- “On the edge” Eric Bertrand Larssen.
- Effective Time Management by Brian Tracy.
- A Book of Self-Power by Tony Robbins.
- “Unlimited power. How to achieve the heights of personal achievement ”Tony Robbins.
- “What will you choose?” Tal Ben Shahar.
- “Don't Distract Me” by Edward Hallowell.
- "How to put things in order" David Allen.
- "To hell with all of it! Take it and do it. ”Richard Branson.
On the development of attention
A few simple exercises to improve concentration:
- Sit on a chair, raise your head, keep your neck straight, and shoulders straightened and lowered. Raise your right hand, pointing your fingers to the right. Turn your head (neck, not torso only) and concentrate on your fingers at the same time. Hold your hand and gaze for a minute. Repeat the same with your left hand.
- Take a comfortable position, close your eyes, imagine a jug and a ball. Imagine a ball going into a jug. Repeat several times. Watch your actions carefully. The result of the exercise is an increase in concentration and unloading of thoughts.
- Take the sheet and pen. Start a straight line. Do it smoothly, think only of the line. If you notice that you are distracted, then draw a branch up and again return to the straight line. This exercise allows not only to train attention, but also to track the dynamics of training.
Use the Eisenhower matrix (one of the methods of time management). Distribute all cases into 4 groups:
- urgent and important
- urgent but unimportant
- important but not urgent
- non-urgent and unimportant.
Urgent and important things to do immediately. Important and urgent matters can be postponed for some time, but do not abuse it (as a result, many urgent and important matters will accumulate). Urgent and unimportant deeds usually mean someone's random assignments. Try to delegate them to another person or refuse. Non-urgent and unimportant deeds usually hide time eaters (smoking, chatting on social networks, watching TV, etc.). You can safely get rid of them.
Practice prioritization using the “A, B, C, D” method. A is the top priority. G is the lowest priority. Write down all the relevant tasks, put letters in front of each. Add another letter:
There may be several urgent matters. Then they can be ranked as follows: Ac1, Ac2, Ac3, etc. And to make it easier to understand the significance of the cases, study the characteristics of the letters:
- And - the most important things. Your future depends on them. An example of an important and urgent matter: go to the doctor for acute pain, pass a report on the work. An example of an important and non-urgent matter: to learn a foreign language for promotion at work.
- B - less important matters that can be abandoned in an emergency. Failure to comply with these cases will have unpleasant consequences, but in general it is not critical for the future. Group B affairs cannot be started until all cases from group A have been completed.
- B - insignificant matters, from the failure of which there will be nothing. Example: read news or a book at your leisure. We begin the affairs of group B only after completing the affairs of group A and B.
- D - unnecessary things and habits that you have long wanted to get rid of.
The main rule for any field: do what you want and can do, follow your destiny. Each person is naturally endowed with unique inclinations that turn into abilities. Develop what you have a penchant for, and give priority to what you are interested in. In psychology, this is called the principle of nature-conforming, that is, following one's individuality and uniqueness. And how to bring this to life, you can find out from the article “I want, I can, I need - the rules of choice. How to combine them in life and be happy. "