Setting Priorities

Another essential factor that affects what tasks you complete is setting realistic priorities.

Setting priorities means you establish:

  • The sequence in which you will do things, and
  • The amount of time you will spend doing these things.

By setting your priorities, you sort the things that demand your time and allocate a schedule when you need to finish them. Time is a very valuable resource, so it is not enough for you to be just busy, it is important for you to be busy doing the right things in the right order. Setting priorities begins with creating a To-Do list of all the tasks that you need complete in a given period of time. Include the date when each task or objective (a narrow task) must be done, estimate the amount of time you need to complete each task, and lastly, rank each task. An example is provided below for non-work-related tasks. If a number of different tasks are involved in the work that you do, your schedule can also be arranged to include work-related tasks.

Explanation of Terms Used in Your Schedule:

Time period—differs with the number of tasks that you must handle. Consider a shorter time period if it takes you more than two sheets to list all your priorities.

Tasks—the items that need to be finished during the stated time period. List items that

take at least 15 minutes but not more than two days to complete.

Due date—the date by which each task must be finished.

Time estimate—the amount of time you feel it will take to complete each of your task. This will

be helpful in determining the rank order.

Rank order—a listing of the order in which you will complete the tasks. If more than one task is due on the same date, do the one that takes the least time first. It is crucial to schedule the ranked items into a weekly plan and then set specific times in which you can work on them every day.


Time Period: Fri. June 1 – Sat. Tune 30, 2001

Tasks Due Date Time Est. Hrs.  Rank Order

Letter to Mom Tue 12 1.25 2

Complete Lesson 13 Fri 22 6.5 6

Fix Lawnmower Sat 16 3.5 8

Paint Tool Shed Sun 3 5.0 5

Complete Lesson 7 Wed 6 2.5 2

Replace Smoke Det. Batts. Mon 24 0.75 1

Oil Change for Taurus Sun 17 1.0 3

Take Tasha to Dinner Sat 23 4.5 7

That should give you an idea. Make a similar To-Do list for each day, week, and month to help you organize your life, prioritize your time, and complete the things that are important to you. Each time you cross off or check an item that you’ve completed, you’ll feel a real sense of achievement. A To-Do list also helps stop forgetting to do certain things. It is a very powerful tool in helping end procrastination. You can make your own To-Do list or you might want to make multiple copies of the blank task scheduler on the next page. The important thing is to have a definite list of the tasks you need to do, rank the tasks in order of their importance to you, and include the approximate time it will take you to complete each task. Once you schedule your time, you might be surprised to realise how much extra free time you seem to have.

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