Become a Black Belt of Prioritisation with these 3 moves

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Become a Black Belt of Prioritisation with these 3 moves

In this article, Peter Cameron-Burnett looks at 3 fast and effective techniques you can use to ensure you to get you the biggest bang for your effort buck, to make sure you succeed in each important area of your life. (Professional and personal!)


Time is our most precious asset.

How we spend it defines how much success we have in our lives.

It’s one of the things that unites everyone on the planet. Rich or poor, successful or otherwise.

We each get just 24 hours a day to work with.

There’s an old analogy about time being like a jar.

And into that same sized jar, we each have to fit all the things we want to do.

Work, family, health, personal development – the whole enchilada.

Here’s the problem …

A lot of people just try to ram everything in there.

They try to make the jar bigger by using coffee instead of sleep.

They try to get more in the jar by “multi-tasking”, which is a nice way of saying they do lots of things poorly at the same time.

They also feel stressed because they know they are missing things in their headlong rush to “just do it”.

There is a problem with managing what you do in your head.

The problem is that your brain is a bit colorblind when it comes to working out the difference between urgent and important.

It sees both as being the same.

If you look at successful people, you will notice that one of their common features is they spend time doing the things that are most important.

Resolve to become a master of prioritisation

We’re going to give you three really good tips on how to do this well, but we need to make sure your mindset is open to receive them, otherwise we’re dropping seeds onto concrete.

So take a moment now to decide that you are going to improve and enrich your life by getting better at prioritisation.

Here’s why it’s important: as the great David Allen says, “there is always more to do that you can get done.”

If each day is like trying to evacuate a 2000 passenger liner into lifeboats that can hold 200, then we need to become masters of who gets in the boats first! 😉

So here are 3 things that you can do to make sure YOU are doing the same.

#1: Get your tasks out of your head onto some sort of system.

If I read out 15 words in rapid succession, and tell you to put them in alphabetical order, you’ll probably struggle doing it mentally.

And your life is a hell of a lot more complicated than ordering 15 words.

So let’s get your tasks out of your head onto a system where we can see and work with them.

By the way, one of the key reasons you can’t work on this stuff in your head is not just a bandwidth issue.

It’s the fact that because every one of your tasks will either be attracting you or repelling you.

And so your unconscious starts hiding the things that repel you.

(A bit like when you ask your kids to tidy their room, and the mess just moves under the bed or into the wardrobe!)

So for you to make conscious decisions about what to do, your conscious mind has to be able to see stuff written down.

#2 Use the MOSCOW system to prioritise what to do

MoSCoW is a really good way of prioritising what you do and what you deliver – largely because it’s super simple and very fast.

There are 4 categories:

  • MUST: These are the things you have to. The world will end if you don’t.
  • SHOULD: These are things that you should do – what you deliver won’t be as good without them, but somehow the world will carry on.
  • COULD: In this shoebox live all the bells, whistles and nice to haves.
  • WON’T: Sometimes calling out what you aren’t going to do is just as important as what you are doing.

Let’s take our above example, and say that you are building a lifeboat.

(Hopefully not one that launches like this …)

  • Musts are it must float, and it must hold say 20 people.
  • Shoulds are it should have some food and water on board.
  • Coulds are it could have navigation tools on board.
  • Won’ts are it won’t have a fully licensed bar.

So what we do is go through our list of things that we created in step 1 and decide what is a must, and should and a could.

And we then do them in descending order of importance.

We evacuate the liner,  musts and children first.

That way, when you do suddenly run out of time because Life happens, it will hopefully be whilst you are doing shoulds or coulds.

#3 Use timeboxes

So far, we have looked at things on a task level.

Another very useful technique that will help you manage the relative importance of different aspects of your life is timeboxing.

This is especially important if you are someone who gets very into things. You lose track of time easily, and suddenly it’s dark and everyone’s gone home and there is still a ton of other stuff you haven’t done.

The stuff you like and want to do gets all your loving …

… and the stuff you don’t want to do gets squished.

Example: I have a timebox of a couple of hours a month to look at accounting stuff.

The reason is I’d far rather be doing AgileOS stuff like this than looking at spreadsheets with our company accountant, and before we introduced timeboxing I was notorious for delivering hard on projects but being my accountant’s worst nightmare.

Now that’s not the case – because there is a protected amount of time for it to get done in.

So it doesn’t get squished!

We also use timeboxes on a daily basis. Blogging like this has a timebox on my action board in AgileOS!


Get AgileOS, and become a master of priortisation fast …

AgileOS is a free system designed to help you manage your personal and professional life, business and teams, removing stress and boosting energy and creativity by helping you get a lot of mental processes out of your head onto a system you can trust.

It helps you do all of the things we’ve shown you above, quicker and easier than anything else out there.

You can sign up for free at http://agileos.tools


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