A full system on how to prioritize your to do list for your daily tasks.

The Power of Priorities: Where to Spend Your Time

Every Sunday I like to sit down and write what needs to get done that week. This way I have an easy snapshot of what the week looks like. Then, each day that week I’ll list out my tasks in order of which priority level they are. Knowing your priorities and which level each falls under will allow you to focus in on the places you want to spend time. We don’t want to get in that trap of feeling busy when we’re just procrastinating on our priorities. So let’s jump right in!


What Really is Important and Urgent?


Before you can decide what falls under each priority level, we need to define what is important and what is urgent.

  • Important items are things that contribute to our long-term mission. These are values, goals and the end result we’re looking for.
  • Urgent items are time sensitive and need to be focused on immediately. They’re the items with exclamation marks or arrows pointing at them.

When in urgent mode, you’ll feel like you’re in a situation of defense because you’re working against the clock. And in contrast, when working on important items, you’re in a responsive situation and allow yourself to stay level and focused.

When we put it this way, you can already see that you want to spend most of your time in important mode over urgent mode. And now that we’ve defined what is important and urgent, we can decide what our priorities are, and therefore where to spend our time.

“If you take the time to prioritize, it’s really going to give you the focus and stamina you need to tackle the things on your list that are truly important to you.”


The 3 Priority Levels:


  • Priority one is the level at the very top. These are important and urgent, and align with your goals and what you WANT to do. Important items are things that contribute to our long term mission. You need to tackle your priority one tasks each day, as they are time-sensitive.
  • Priority two’s are important and non-urgent. This is actually where you want to spend most of you time. Some examples include taking a course to improve yourself, creating a budget plan – long term projects. Here, you’re not in panic mode, which means you can think clearly, be creative and give yourself time. But this also means without that sense of urgency, things get put on the back burner until they blow up in our faces. Place your emphasis on these tasks and you’ll be making leaps and bounds with your personal growth.
  • Priority three is the level with unimportant but urgent tasks. They are time-sensitive and have a looming deadline, but they don’t necessarily align with your goals. They are unimportant, have to be done, and often can pull you away from your priority two tasks. Often times people will push their agenda on you, and you’ll have a hard time saying no to this, and sometimes, with deadlines, it feels unavoidable.
  • Some could argue that there is a fourth priority. These are issues that are unimportant and non urgent. I’d like to think these priorities aren’t part of your list at all, because honestly, they shouldn’t be labeled as priorities. They aren’t going to be moving you toward your ultimate goals anyway, and might just be time wasters. Examples of these include watching TV shows, checking your social media – things that don’t work toward our goals.

That being said, do make sure you have some down time. You want to decompress or you’ll burn out. Just make sure not to lose yourself in a rabbit hole of binge watching Netflix for hours!


So What’s Next?


Most people feel they fall into the priority three level. But don’t worry – we will be tackling how to combat this in the next blog post and podcast episode! For now, I want to encourage you to use this method to prioritize your weekly to-do list. If you take the time to prioritize, it’s going to give you the focus and stamina you need to tackle the things on your list that are truly important to you.

Redirect your time and clean out the clutter in your mind that is so focused on priority three tasks because they won’t help you achieve your goals. You want to be able to to say “no” to the things that prevent you from your priority two and priority one tasks. To get a better feel for these types of tasks or to get some help writing your own, listen to episode 006 of Productivity Paradox. These three categories of priorities directly relate to the next blog post and episode 007 podcast about saying no, so if you have any trouble in that department – I got you covered!

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  • Leisa Hammett

    Can you share a link for this to-do list pad? (for purchase) TY.

    March 9, 2017 at 12:58 pm

  • Emma Alexander

    Hi Leisa! Sure, here ya go – http://bit.ly/2m76vRE

    March 9, 2017 at 2:00 pm

Tonya Dalton
Tonya Dalton