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How I Set Priorities: Get Things Done

Ross Kimbarovsky asks: “How do you decide what to do next? Should you write a blog post? Answer emails in your inbox? Make several sales calls? Spend time on Twitter? Or should you call a team meeting to discuss a customer problem?

Ross adds that successful people are successful in part “because they are good at setting priorities. And while there are many different ways to set priorities, I wanted to share how I set my own priorities.”

Getting Things Done – How I Set Priorities from Ross Kimbarovsky on Vimeo.

Getting Things Done: How I Set Priorities

For me, it’s all about planning. And planning, by extension, is decision-making.

  1. Start the night before. At the end of the day, I review what I’ve done. It takes only 5 min. What did I forget to do? This goes to the top of next day’s schedule.
  2. I get up around 5.30 am to get a head start and beat the kids getting up.
  3. I ignore the emails for 1 hour. Nothing is that urgent.
  4. I plan my day – what is critical goes first, then what I need to do and the rest can wait
  5. When all of this is done, I check emails, watch cats doing ninja tricks and what not
  6. I have a super quick review at 11.45 before lunch
  7. I have a super quick review at 2.45 to make sure I’m still on track.

All this is done on my pad. Writing it down seems to make it more permanent. I like to cross things off when I’ve conquered a task!

Small rewards as we go along. Nothing fancy.

Closing my inbox during the work day was/is the biggest way to save time. And, of course, turn off the phone.

How do you organize your day?

5 thoughts on “How I Set Priorities: Get Things Done

  1. […] Walsh recently posted his thoughts on this topic but he doesn’t cover the process that comes before the daily decision making of “what […]

  2. This presumes you are in control of everything you do, that you decide what needs done and have no customer. Once I have a prioritised list, yes I do much the same as you, but you aren't covering HOW those things you choose to do that day, end up being the things you HAVE to do that day.

    If you see what I mean.

    In other words, you are working through a big list, but how do you decide which items on the list to do first? Are you working from a plan?

    1. Hi Gordon,

      <you aren't covering HOW those things you choose to do that day, end up being the things you HAVE to do that day. <you are working through a big list & how do you decide which items on the list to do first?
      Sure, I see what you're saying.

      Like most of us I’m under the whip to produce things every, so I find lists helpful, but only up to a point.

      What I've started to do recently – and it seems to be working – is spending 15 min every night checking where I wasted time and where I was more productive.

      Trends begin to emerge and I try to iron things (circular emails can be a big time-waster) and also see where I've made little quick wins. Then I fine tune my weekly plan for the next day…

      The next morning I have a quick mtg with myself (I know!) and create a little plan of attack.

      I list what I plan to do AND prepare contingencies in case others try to distract me,

      “Ivan, I forgot to tell you about this meeting – can you pop in?”

      “Does the PM know about this? She’s expected my status report at 4?”

      How do you manage these type of situations? e.g. when others try to pull you in 4 directions at the same time – and all are kinda justified — but you'll take the hit if your deadlines get missed.

  3. Good job describing a practical system for planning, organizing, and accomplishing daily work tasks.

  4. Thanks Bruce,

    Often the simplest things work best.


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