Everyone has the same number of hours in a day, but what makes some of us achieve more than others? Is it just pure intellect, or is there an element of prioritization and organization that comes into play? It’s both, and a handful of tools and strategies to boot. Enter a priority list.
In today’s article, you’ll learn what a priority list, why it’s so effective, and how it can help you get stuff done. We’ll also show you how to create your first priority list three easy steps.
🚦 What Is a Priority List?
In a nutshell, a priority list is a task list containing all tasks you need to prioritize.
And that makes a lot of sense. Productivity? It’s all about those small steps. Think of it this way: you jot down an unassuming task list, and suddenly, you’re off to a great start. But take a moment to prioritize that list? You’re in the zone, making things happen.
Building on the foundation of a task list, a priority list is all about making intentional decisions on what to tackle first. By assigning importance and urgency to each task, you’re not just making a to-do list; you’re crafting a game plan. It’s about taking charge and being proactive.
The only problem? Creating tasks is easy. But learning how to prioritize them efficiently requires real skill. The good news is, there are tools and techniques you can use to make things easier.
But before we got to the “how” part, let’s discuss the “why” first. 👇
🤔 Why Should You Create a Priority List?
It Helps You Organize Your Most Important Tasks
A priority list organizes your tasks by importance. While a basic, assorted to-do list is helpful in many scenarios, adding due dates and specific actions to your list makes it more effective. This way, you’re better equipped to manage your time and complete tasks efficiently.
Besides, learning how to manage and prioritize tasks is a good practice.
Stacking up action items and turning out monster to-do lists is counterproductive; a lengthy list of tasks might seem impressive but can lead to paralysis: where do you even start? After you become adept at crafting task lists, refining your ability to prioritize should naturally follow.
It Allows You To Stay Focused
Some say our attention spans are about the same as a goldfish’s. It’s a funny comparison, but it sure speaks volumes about how easily distracted we’ve become in today’s world.
A priority list can help focus on the most important and urgent task at hand. This means that all your efforts are focused on ensuring that said task is completed to the best of your ability.
This is very much in line with the 80-20 rule, more commonly known as the Pareto Principle. The principle suggests that 80% of the results come from 20% of the efforts or causes. So, by honing in on that crucial 20%, you can achieve more while spending less time, energy, and resources.
You’re less likely to get distracted with trifles that don’t deserve your time and attention. This clarity not only enhances your efficiency but also reduces stress and offers a clearer path to achieving your objectives. It’s a productivity win-win if we ever saw one.
Helps You Practice Task Delegation
Doing everything on your own is not a sustainable strategy. As you scale and take on more tasks and responsibilities, it’s inevitable that you’ll soon have to delegate tasks.
The most successful leaders are those who learn to bring out the best in others. Although you might have the urge to do everything on your own, there is an opportunity cost involved when it comes to time; you’re better off working on tasks that actually require your attention.
Delegate lower-priority tasks (or those that need an expertise different than your own) to other team members and maintain your focus on key objectives. As an added bonus, this will also send a clear signal to your team members and employees that you trust them to get work done.
🏗️ How to Create a Priority List
A priority list is a to-do list that has been arranged based on priority. But how do you get there in a relatively painless way? Here’s how to create your first priority list in three steps.
#1 Create a Master Task List
Tasks can come from a variety of sources, so the first step you need to take is to aggregate all of your big and small commitments in a single to-do list. Having them all in one place makes it way easier to figure out the most important tasks and prioritize them more effectively.
Start by jotting down everything that comes to mind. Whether it’s an important meeting, a minor chore, or even a personal errand, get it all out and into one, centralized list.
Prefer paper? That’s fine, but you’ll be missing out on some great benefits of digital to-dos like:
- 🔔 Reminders and notifications for due dates
- 🔄 Seamless syncing across devices
- 🤝 Easy sharing and collaboration capabilities
…and a handful of other benefits. But we’ll get to that in a moment. And now for the fun stuff.
#2 Organize Your Tasks
With all the tasks in place, you need to organize them by priority. There are many strategies you can use for that, but we prefer using either the Eat the Frog method or the Eisenhower Matrix.
Here’s a quick recap on how each of those productivity methods work.
🐸 Eat the Frog
The Eat the Frog method was created in the early 1900s and is often attributed to Mark Twain. Although there’s no evidence that Twain coined the phrase, he is often quoted as saying:
If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.
These days, the method is known simply as Brian Tracy’s Eat the Frog. Tracy, a renowned motivational public speaker and self-development author, penned a book titled “Eat That Frog!” where he revitalized and popularized the method and broke it into 21 practical strategies.
The method itself is simple.
Your “Frog” refers to the toughest task that you have for the day. The one you are most likely to procrastinate on, but also the one that might have the greatest positive impact on your work.
If you start your day by eating your biggest, meanest frogs, nothing else can faze you for the rest of it. That’s it — list your tasks, spot your frogs, and tackle them first. It’s that simple.
Dwight D. Eisenhower, the 34th President of the United States once said:
I have two kinds of problems, the urgent and the important. The urgent are not important, and the important are never urgent.”
Eisenhower’s quote laid the groundwork for the Eisenhower Matrix, a simple yet transformative tool designed to optimize productivity and decision-making. By separating tasks into four quadrants, the matrix provides a clear visual representation of where your focus should be:
Based on which quadrant a task belongs to, you take one of four routes:
- Urgent + Important = Do first. Tasks you must complete immediately.
- Urgent + Not Important = Delegate. Tasks to schedule for later.
- Not Urgent + Important = Schedule. Tasks to delegate if possible.
- Not Urgent + Not Important = Delete. Tasks to consider eliminating or postponing.
And that’s it.
Both the Eat the Frog method and the Eisenhower matrix are simple tools you can use to prioritize your tasks quickly and efficiently. Choose one that works for you and stick to it.
#3 Tackle Your Tasks
Organized your tasks? Great. Now’s the time to roll up your sleeves and get stuff done.
After you’ve organized your tasks, the next thing to do is to work on them methodically, one by one. While the temptation might be there to multitask, studies have shown that it’s often counterproductive. Instead, focus on one task at a time and move on only when you’re done.
Of course, no strategy or method is set in stone.
Watch your results, make adjustments, and continually refine your approach. Don’t be afraid to experiment and try different approaches, as long as you stick to one rule: a task at a time.
By using a priority list to organize your tasks, you’ll be able to optimize your day and set yourself up for success. Remember, success lies in simplicity and consistency. Stay adaptable. Learn from experiences. Celebrate small victories. This is the secret sauce of productivity.
Ok, but can you make your priority lists even more powerful? Let’s find out. 🚀
🐑 Using Taskade To Create A Priority List
We love traditional pen & paper lists. But they’re not exactly the most efficient way to track and organize tasks. You can grapple with your stationery, or you can use a powerful and simple digital tool that will help you get the job done without a hassle. Enter Taskade.
So, where do we start?
There are several ways you can create a priority list with Taskade.
Let’s start with a classic approach.
All you need to get started is a project nested inside a workspace or a folder. Once inside, simply type your tasks and organize them any way you like using keyboard shortcuts or the drag-and-drop interface. If your tasks have additional qualities, Taskade can automatically sort them by:
- ✔️ Completed
- 🔲 Uncompleted
- ⬇ A to Z
- ⬆ Z to A
- @ Mention
- 🗓 Due Date
To better organize the list, consider adding #hashtags to prioritize and categorize the items. This will allow you to manage the list using custom filters for #priority, #location, #context, and more.
It’s that simple.
Ok, but we’re in the age of AI, and that means we can easily automate a big chunk of the workflow using Taskade’s built-ai AI assistant. Here’s how it works.
The list is in place. The first thing we need to do is to organize it by priority. All you need to do is select your tasks and select the Prioritize bulk AI command. Taskade will use the power of natural language processing and machine learning to arrange the items by importance.
If you ever get stuck, you can simply use the /subtask AI command to break big, complex priorities into a series of bite-sized items. Every task and subtask can be divided into a number of incremental items nested in infinite hierarchies, letting you work one check at a time.
Of course, there are many other ways Taskade can help you work faster and smarter:
- 🎨 Minimalist user interface optimized for productivity.
- 🤖 Powerful artificial intelligence integration.
- 🤝 Chat, video calls, and comments.
- 🛠️ Custom templates to speed up work.
- 📱 Syncing across multiple platforms and devices.
- And much more!
🚀 Ready to supercharge your priority lists?
Create a free Taskade account today!
👋 Parting words
Now that you’ve learned how to create a priority list, why not get a headstart using our free task priority list template? Get into a habit of creating priority lists and ramp up your productivity levels today.