Prioritizing by Level of Effort and Amount of Time

Today, as I was leaving the building, I saw a first year English teacher who looked frazzled. When I said “hello” and asked how she was, she gave the common first-year-teacher look of overwhelm, frustration and helplessness. She told me that she had “so much to do” and didn’t know how she’d get it all done. So we talked about it.

By the end of our five minute conversation, she had prioritized her to-do list and created a timeline for completion (well ahead of her deadline). How did this happen?

1. She articulated the specific things she needed to address

2. We estimated how difficult it would be, and how much time it would take, to complete each task

3. She decided to do the tasks that would require the least amount of effort and the least amount of time first, followed by a higher level of effort but a relatively short amount of time, followed by the tasks with the highest level of effort that would take the most amount of time.

Because most of her tasks will be completed before she gets to the last category, she will be able to spend all of her time and energy on the most difficult and time-consuming task. Plus, she’ll have a sense of accomplishment going into that task because she will have crossed everything else off her “to-do” list.

How do you prioritize your to-do list?

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