Prioritizing Your To Do List

Ben Yoskovitz over at Instigator Blog is looking for ways to be more productive. What better way then to prioritize your long list of things to do.

We all have a To-Do list, but how do you decide what you’ll do first? The thing SCREAMING YOUR NAME? The easiest task? Have you ever considered that perhaps there are items on your task list nagging at you that really don’t benefit you, your business or your customer?

My dad, Paul Chaddock, retired S.VP of Lechmere, recently walked me through an exhaustive process to help me prioritize and organize my tasks. And it was worth every minute.

Basically here is what he had me do:

Identify the customer. This isn’t as easy as you might think. If you have a list of tasks related to one specific project then the customer might be your primary contact or the company you are providing services to. But the customer (as in my case) could be YOU. Once you’ve identified the customer, then ask yourself the following five questions and rate them on a scale of 1-10 in terms of importance to the CUSTOMER.

1. Payoff – financial compensation or value

2. Felt need – does the customer think it’s important?

3. Visibility – if you do this will the customer see and think it’s a good thing?

4. Success probability – if you do this, how successful will you be?

5. Time/Effort – how much time and how difficult will it be for you to do?

Once you determine the VALUE of the items on your task list – begin to prioritize. Are there things on the list that the customer won’t see and therefore sees no need for? Perhaps those drop to the bottom of the list or even off the list all together.

Next look at your calendar. What percentage of your time is being spent on items that have no perceived value to the customer, take a long time and provide little if any financial payoff? Will the world stop revolving if you drop these off your list? Probably not.

Hopefully what will remain will be items that are profitable, value-based with a high rate of success.

When was the last time you ANALYZED the items on your To Do list? Or do you just keep adding the items not completed to the next day’s list – an ever growing, virtually impossible to complete list that keeps you awake at night.

How do you prioritize your to-dos?