3 Ways To Prioritise Effectively

Apr 01, 2021

3 ways to prioritise effectively sounds like a good deal doesn't it? Three options to choose from, a smorgasbord of thinking to feast upon, a cornucopia of ideas to help you thrive. Well, maybe.

It could also be an opportunity to squander time. A tantalising array of credible choices providing you with an agonising decision to make. Fear not!!! I've added a recommendation at the end too.

Let's start with the basics:

"If you have more than 3 priorities, then you don't have any."

- Jim Collins

Option 1 - The ABCDE Prioritisation Method

This method was made famous by Brian Tracy. Essentially, you're grading everything that you encounter and deciding which ones will get your attention. As the title suggests, the actual method includes D and E too. These are things that you shouldn't be doing at all so they need to be delegated or ditched.

Verdict: It's simple, it's flexible, it's responsive. However, it doesn't appear to be underpinned by any particular Values.

This last point is further underlined by Brian's famous book, "Eat That Frog". It's a great tactic for getting difficult things done that seem to hang around, taking up mental space. But should we always prioritise our time and effort in favour of activities just because they are big and difficult?

Option 2 - The Urgent & Important Prioritisation Method

This prioritisation method is famously attributed to Stephen Covey who brought it to our attention in his fantastic book, "7 Habits of Highly Effective People". However, it seems that it has been around a lot longer than that. It was also known as the Eisenhower Method too as he used it to organise his tasks throughout his career.

Although the model suggests Urgent and Important are a top priority, Covey goes on to explain that it is the Non-Urgent but Important stuff we should focus on as these will decrease the number of things that end up being urgent.

Verdict: It's detailed, it's precise, it's structured. However, it can be confusing to implement. I have met many people who have constantly wondered which category related to which level of priority and gave up.

The Priorities 1,2,3 Prioritisation Method

This little method is one that first appeared in a book called "Time Management 24/7" in 2003 written by an unknown author called Simon Phillips.

This approach to prioritising is part of a bigger process called the 24/7 System which starts with the L4 Framework and the identification of Life Goals. If you want to use this in a work setting though, just substitute Life Goal for Personal Objectives.

The approach requires some additional thought to obtain clarity on what you are doing or hope to do.

Verdict: Simple, intuitive and memorable. However, it does require you to put in the work up front to get clear on your goals.

The idea is to "prioritise" all activities that help you achieve your goals, not someone else's. The aim is to minimise Priority 3 activities boosting our sense of self-confidence and achievement.

This method is life enhancing because it means you are always focused on activities that you value.

And the Winner Is...

At the risk of sounding biased, I'm recommending the Priority 123 method for the following reasons:

  • It utilises the best elements of the other two methods - as simple and intuitive as the ABC method and as precise as the Urgent and Important method.
  • It focuses on activities we have decided will enhance our lives.
  • It encourages to think our whole lives, not just the hours we spend working.

Give it a go and let me know how you get on. If you haven't signed up to complete the L4 Framework for free yet, click here and get started now.

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