How to Prioritize a To-Do List

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How to Prioritize a To-Do List. To-do lists serve as helpful reminders about meetings, shopping needs, birthdays and other important tasks. But when that list gets too long to complete in one day, prioritizing it may become a critical element in your already hectic schedule.

Break down your list according to time limits. Decide which of the items on your list must be done today, this week, this month or even this year. Those with the shortest time limits will obviously hover at the top of your list.

Consider how the priorities on your to-do list will affect the lists of others. If Joe is waiting for your month-end figures before he can complete his monthly report for the boss, then it might be prudent to give this one a top priority even if you've given it a month time limit.

Look at consequences that will occur if you don't accomplish something on your list. Do this with every item on your list and determine which items warrant top priority by deciding which consequences you can or cannot live with.

Take into account the positive things that could happen if you accomplish certain things on your list. If completing the company business plan or putting together a presentation for your boss will get you a raise, then by all means give those items a place of honor on your list.

Weed out projects or events that always sink to the bottom of your list. This will increase the amount of time you can spend on more important things.


Keep one central list instead of several separate ones. Consolidate your personal and work lists into one to cut down on time spent prioritizing two lists. After all, the items on both lists are things you have to do. Spend a day doing the little things cluttering up your to-do list. This will allow you to check off many items and free up your time for the more in-depth projects. Prioritize your list only once a week. If it was important on Monday and it didn't get done, then it should still be important on Friday.


Don't get too caught up in the prioritizing to accomplish items on your list. Prioritizing can be time well-spent or a useful excuse for procrastinators.

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