How to Prioritize Your Tasks and Activities – Part 3

In this series of posts, we’ve been examining various ways to prioritize your tasks and activities. Because you have many things to do, but little time to get everything done, you must learn to prioritize your tasks effectively—if productivity matters to you.

In the first post of this series, I presented the most common way to prioritize your tasks and activities: prioritization by the level of importance. In the second post, we took a look at prioritization by the level of urgency. Although different, both can find their place in your prioritization strategy toolbox.

Another strategy you can use when prioritizing your tasks and activities is prioritization by length. This is when you rank your tasks and activities in function of the time they’re going to take you to perform. Usually, you start with the shortest tasks and move your way to the longest one.

For example, say you have three tasks to complete: one you estimate will take you 1 hour to finish, the other 30 minutes, and the last one 3 minutes. If you use the length of the tasks as your prioritization criteria, you will tackle the 3 minutes task first, then the 30-minute task, and finally the 1-hour task.

Of course, when you prioritize your tasks by their length, there’s a risk that your time estimates for each task aren’t precise, as sometimes tasks take longer than you first expected. But the estimated length can still serve as a guide to organize your list of activities.

Prioritization by length (from the shortest task to the longest one) usually serves to ensure you tackle as many tasks as possible regardless of their importance. The goal here is to cross as many items off the list as possible. This strategy aims to maximize the number of completed tasks.

On rare occasion, you might want to tackle your longest tasks first and keep your shorter ones for the end, since the shortest tasks can be “squeeze” in at the end of your day.

There are days when you want to start your day with a quick win (i.e., you want to get something done quickly) so that you can set the tone for your day. In those days, you may decide to start your day by performing a short task, even though it may not be the most important or urgent task on your list.

As you can begin to see, the prioritization strategies I present in this series can be used together to organize your tasks and activities in a way that works for you.

About The Author

Vladimir Elie

I help people learn and apply success principles and strategies so that they can get the results they want in life.