Heard this one the other day in a podcast from The Accidental Creative, an interview with Peter Bregman, author of 18 Minutes (Kindle version is only $2.99! Just got mine).
The gist is that a simple to-do list is not enough, and that’s not a new approach. Franklin Covey aficionados are familiar with the ABC/123 prioritizing system, which I’ve used with (limited) success. (Not a problem with the system, I think, just a problem with my implementation.)
Other systems have similar encouragement and their own methodology, but the point is that if you don’t have some way of giving your to-do tasks a priority, you’ll probably never get to the ones that are really, truly important.
I like Bregman’s approach, and it’s the one I’m trying out now.
He suggests using boxes, 6 of them, to be exact. 5 are for the top 5 priorities, and the 6th is for everything else.
I love this approach, because it
- is more fun than labeling A, B, or C. Plus does anyone else get stuck on whether XYC Task is a low b or a high c? Or which A1 task is the most important?
- keeps your top priorities front-and-center.
- gives you a quick visual on what is eating your time. If that 6th box is overflowing, or if any one of the other 5 is consistently bare, you know you have some adjustments to make.
- is just more interesting, and
- I like drawing boxes and writing things in them. I feel almost artistic.
So if you’re frustrated with trying to set priorities on a to-do list, or with finding your priorities somewhere on your to-do list, or with having a to-do list at all…
Give it a try. (You should also make sure you know what your critical inch is, and it should be part of your day, every day.)