There are countless manifestos on how to work efficiently to boost productivity. Because we all operate a bit differently, though, it will likely take some trial and error before you custom-fit someone else’s workflow to your own life.
That’s why it’s important to have a simple, no-nonsense methodology to help prioritize your time.
It starts with assigning all of your to-do items a level of importance. Prioritize everything according to the following system:
Tier 1: These are the most urgent tasks. If they aren’t completed promptly, the impact will be bad.
Tier 2: These tasks are part of your standard operating procedure. They play a role in furthering your career and accomplishing day-to-day goals.
Tier 3: This accounts for most online activity — recreational browsing and wants versus needs. Things like busy work fall into this category as well.
How to Use the System
As you embark on using this system, you’ll find you spend the vast majority of your time on Tier 2. The only exception is when Tier 1 items pop up. When they do, you’ll need to place them at the top of the list and tackle them as soon as possible.
Tier 2 will include items that aren’t immediately obvious as high-priority. Things like networking, casual conversations with coworkers, face-to-face meetings, and phone calls with friends can be important factors in your life and career.
The Secret Role of Tier 3
As for Tier 3 items, you should never touch them until Tier 2 is complete. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll probably find that you almost never get to Tier 3 at all. The beauty of this methodology is that it helps you identify what is furthering your career and goals versus what isn’t.
The secret role of Tier 3 is to become a sort of trash can for items that aren’t valuable. By categorizing everything that comes to mind — from finishing the report by 5 p.m. to responding to an email — you’ll soon become better at distinguishing items that help you achieve your goals from those that don’t.
Tobak, Steve. “The Secret to Prioritizing Your Time.” Entrepreneur, 14 Feb. 2014, www.entrepreneur.com/article/231520.