Sometimes it is hard to prioritise our day, our week, or our month. There are so many things competing for our time. I learnt a technique from my days in IT consulting which really helps me prioritise at times when I have far too much on my plate. It is a good start in helping to thin out my list of tasks….

Get a sheet of paper and turn it sideways (ie landscape) and draw 3 columns. Name the columns MUST, SHOULD, COULD respectively.

Now start going through your list and putting them in the appropriate columns. If a task absolutely must be done today then put it in the MUST column. If it should be done today but it is not critical then put it in the SHOULD column. Anything else put into the COULD column.

Go through the SHOULD column and decide when you WILL do it and put it in your calendar for that day. Then go through your MUST column and further prioritise it using either numbers (1 is most important and 10 least important).

Once you have prioritised you then need to get real and decide which of the MUST column will you be able to do and how the rest will be done. It could be the case that some of these tasks can actually be delegated or delayed/rescheduled. The important thing is to make sure you are in control of your tasks rather than letting them control you. And remember that not all urgent tasks are important. Also, sometimes tasks are important for the longer term but are not urgent and need to be addressed before they become a problem. If you have tasks like these then make sure they are in your MUST column if appropriate. These may include working on a book, adding to your blog, or preparing for an important speech.

Being rigorous in the way you prioritise your activities really helps to sort the wheat from the chaff.