8 OF MY PRIORITIZATION TECHNIQUES

Some time ago, I posted about six factors, which play a role in the battle with procrastination. They can indeed be helpful. However, they are only the first step in the whole journey of overcoming procrastination.

That is why, as soon as I figured out my preferences and needs, I started experimenting with prioritization and motivation methods and tools. I adapted these methods for my own needs, mixed them up and switched between them regularly depending on my mood and demands.


Now, I will walk you through the eight approaches I am currently using and how I have adapted them to meet my requirements:


Eisenhower

Whenever I have a lot of tasks and projects, I use the Eisenhower Matrix to get an overview of everything going on and to identify the most relevant topics and urgent topics for me.


In the beginning, I tried to use the Eisenhower Matrix as specified. But over time, I discovered that the quadrants “Not important but Urgent” and“Not urgent and Not important” do not fit my needs.


First of all, I cannot delegate my tasks to someone else, except if I pay for them, which I do not want to. And secondly, I seldom have work that I can just delete, even if these tasks are not urgent and not important. Still, these are things that I want or have to do at some point.


Therefore, I used only two quadrants, which combined the “Decide” and “Delegate” quadrants because both resulted in scheduling my work.

Over time I also started to use the Eisenhower Matrix on different media.

  • Online, in my favourite work management tool Asana:

  • Physical, in one of my notebooks

Kanban

I use the Kanban board to visualize and keep track of my work within a specific time frame and collaborate with others.


The Kanban boards which I use with my collaboration partners have columns such as “Backlog”, “in Progress”, “Done”, “Pending”, “To-do Karin”, “To-do someone else”, “Selection for the week”, …”. Depended on our needs, we experiment with various columns and workflows.


I use a physical Kanban Board in my notebook next to the Eisenhower Matrix for my private tasks. I use the Eisenhower Matrix to sort and prioritize all my tasks and my Kanban Board to select the work for the upcoming week.


If you want to know more about Kanban Boards, read here.


Post-It List

For particular projects, I use Post-its to split them into smaller tasks and get an overview of the things which need to be done. I start with a brainstorming session where I use for each idea a Post-it. I write everything down which comes to my mind without giving it a second thought. After the brainstorming session, I group Post-its with a similar purpose, throw some of them away and add headlines for identified groups. Finally, I sort them by putting the highest priority and most essential ideas on the top left side. With that approach, I create a two-dimensional sorting. Headlines get sorted from left to right, and topics within a group from top to bottom. When I started to work on a project, I began with the Post-its on the top left side. Whenever I am done with one step, I tick them off with colour.

If I want to be more creative, sometimes I draw pictures on Post-its instead of written text.


Working Slots

Whenever a lot is going on and my days get filled up with meetings and appointments or I feel the need for more focus time, I block my calendar with “Working slots”. It helps me avoid days of endless meeting sessions and have time for concentrated work. During such times, I turn off all my notifications and focus on the tasks I have planned to do. As a last resort, I allow myself to cancel one of my reserved slots for urgent and essential appointments.

Pomodoro

The Pomodoro technique is a straightforward productivity technique. Most of the time, I choose a time of one hour in which I want to work undisturbed and be focused. During that time, I turn off all my notifications and work on the tasks I have decided on beforehand. As soon as my timer rings, I do a break of 15 minutes away from technical equipment.


I often combine the Pomodoro technique with my “Working Slots”. Whenever I reserve time in my calendar, I use the Pomodoro technique to have focused working time.


Read more about the Pomodoro technique here.

To-Do List

Sometimes an unspectacular To-Do list is all that is needed. As already mentioned above, I use the work management tool Asana to prioritize and sort my collaboration tasks. I either use the Kanban board view or display my tasks as a simple To-Do list grouped into the two quadrants from the Eisenhower Matrix.


I switch between my physical Kanban board and simple Post-its on which I write down my To-Dos for my private tasks. As with the Kanban board, also the Post-Its are in my notebook, which I always carry with me. Whenever I have finished a task, I tick it off. Physical To-Do lists or Kanban boards motivate me more and are fun than online task lists because I can move Post-its around or tick things physically off.

X-Cards

If I want to build up a new habit or keep myself motivated for ongoing activities, I use the X-Card technique. At the moment, I use it for my daily training plan. Whenever I successfully followed the training as written down, I crossed it through.


If you want to know more about that technique, read here.

Track time

When I feel that I am not very productive, I am not sure why I start to track my time for a full day or sometimes even several days. With that tracking, I create awareness of how I spent my time. I identify the time killers such as Social Media or watching movies and decide how I want to use my time differently in the following days. Focusing on outcomes instead of forcing myself to work a specific number of hours a day also helps me keep up motivation and be more productive. Even when I finish my work after a few hours, I can enjoy other things.


Conclusion

These are the techniques I use in my daily life. Get inspired, but do not blindly copy them! Identify your own needs and preferences first and then use and adjust the methods and tools accordingly.