We won’t talk about prioritization methods like Kano, RICE, ICE and so on. Some time ago I wrote about the ICE scoring model because it struck me with its simplicity and seemed like a handy tool on the spot. But then it occurred to me that it often happens that many activities are actually of relatively equal importance. At least in my case, but I’m sure someone else has the same. How do you prioritize when everything is important? ICE doesn’t help much with this.
Before I tell you exactly what I did—and you can just scroll down to the picture at the bottom of the page as it sums it all up—I’d like to add a little more background and also touch on the topic of decluttering.
One morning, sitting on the couch and coffee-meditating, I caught myself in the fact that my mind was constantly jumping from one topic to another. With each jump, adding something and making a list of actions on each of these topics. Felt overwhelming. So which of these should I do next right now? A little of this and a little of that? But I couldn’t even focus on one thing—they all wanted my attention.
Write to declutter your mind
I grabbed a notepad and a pen and, without thinking, I just started to jot down a list of individual actions that I want to do in the near future. Straight from my head to paper. Without even thinking about the correct wording or order, just writing it all down. When I first stopped writing, I scored 10 big points. They all fought in my head for their right to act.
This exercise helped me see clearly what was going on in my head. It also made it obvious that I needed to decide what I would do next, and then after that, and so on.
Prioritize your action list
I looked at my action list and everything seemed important to me. If I took the ICE scoring model, I would get roughly the same valuation for each action plus uncertainty. Also sometimes you just want to do something more than something else. So I wanted to keep that element of desire important. Another thing I kept is the need to see progress in order to stay motivated. These two things formed question #1 for my action points:
How far is this from 100% completion?
It doesn’t really matter which scale you use, but for simplicity you can use 10 points, where 1 point is really a small amount of effort required to perform an action, and 10 means that you didn’t even think it through carefully, while the action is difficult for you.
You are answering this question for yourself, be honest and put the number according to how you really feel about the action and the effort you will need to complete it. And not how this same action could be done by someone else. So, for example, someone makes a video easily, so it takes a little effort to get started and only a couple of hours to finish. And for you it can be hard and you need days. It is all fine, just put the right number.
Ask this question for each of your action items and write a number next to it.
If you now sort the action items with smaller ones at the top, you will see a list of actions to be performed one after the other, from top to bottom. Moreover, as you go through it, you will feel progress not just in actions, but because you will see a gradual result and feel the reward for achievement. Action items at the bottom of the list are unlikely to disappear and your brain will be working on them in stealth mode. At the time you get to them, they will require less effort than initially, because you have already done some thought work.
Actually, that’s it. I could only dwell on this one question. But I wanted to keep one more important thing—whether other people participate and whether I have obligations. So question #2 for my action points:
Am I obliged to do this?
In the sense, did I commit to the action so that now someone is waiting for it? “Obliged” in a good sense. Maybe you promised something to someone you care about. Or maybe you know that if you take action, someone you care about will benefit from it. In this sense, you may feel morally obliged.
If the answer is yes, then bring this action item to the top.
So what do you get in the end?
List of actions in order of priority. Actions that are close to completion and actions that you feel obliged to perform will be at the top. And remember that nothing is set in stone, so you can redo the exercise if something has changed, even if only in your mind.
And here is a short version of this article in the picture
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