Notes from a Floating Life Thoughts about productivity, digital living, and leading a simpler life

Thoughts on Prioritizing Your Tasks

While I’m not a productivity guru, I do know several useful tricks and techniques for (dare I say it?) getting things done. My philosophy is to keep things simple and use simple tools. I even wrote a small book on the subject.

One of the cornerstones of most systems for organization and productivity is the to-do list. A to-do list is definitely a useful tool. It can be a bit restrictive (more on this in a future post), but if used properly a to-do list can help make your work and life easier.

Over the years, when I’ve talked about creating effective to-do lists, I’ve had people ask me how they should prioritize their tasks. To be honest, I can’t give them, or you, a definitive answer.

Why? How you set your priorities is up to you. You know what you have to do better than I do. You know your own deadlines better than I do. You know what work needs to be done now better than I do. You know your own capabilities, limitations, and the roadblocks you face better than I do.

The only guideline that I can offer is this: look at your tasks and look at your deadlines. Focus on the tasks that have the earliest deadlines and then work backwards from there. That sounds like common sense. But sometimes it’s hard to see the situation that way when your head is so deeply involved in whatever work you’re doing.

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