The Productivity Institute

Personal Productivity Solutions to Leverage Your Impact


Prioritizing Power

By: Dr. Donald E. Wetmore

I recommend taking time each evening to do Daily Planning for the next day. Prepare a list of all the things you “Have To” do, but, more importantly, the things you “Want To” do. This begins the process of taking control of the most precious resource at your command, the next twenty-four hours.

If you were to review that list, it is likely you would find some items are “Crucial” while others are, well, “Not Crucial.” The Crucial items give you the best use of your time, but often we get caught up in the Not Crucial items because they are typically quicker and maybe a bit easier to complete than the Crucial items.

We need Prioritizing Power, a tool to help us to get over to the Crucial side of our daily ledger.

I have that tool for you through our Prioritizing System:

  • A = Crucial
  • B = Important
  • C = Little Value
  • D = No Value
  • * = Quickie

“A” is for the Crucial items on your list and you are the only one who can determine whether something is Crucial or not. Now you will determine that in light of your commitments and responsibilities to others but also in light of your long-term goals and “Want To’s.” (It ought to be our goal each and every day to work our “A’s” off.)

“B” means Important. If you had a choice between an “A” and a “B,” obviously, you would want to work on the “A.” (You may find you have two “B’s” or not two “B’s”; that is the question.)

“C” means Little Value. Chances are you will not get to your “C’s” today but that is fine because everything else will have a higher value.

“D” means No Value. What do you do if you find you have a “D” on your list? Get rid of it because by definition it has no value. If you have not been through this process before of writing everything down that you “Have To” and “Want To” do, no doubt you will find you have been carrying around some “D’s” in your head and it is a welcome relief to scratch them off your list.

Finally, the “*” is for a Quickie item. Any item that takes less than a minute or two to complete ought to be identified as a Quickie because in the time it would take to figure out its priority, you could have it done. I typically have a handful of Quickie items each day and I complete them first to give my day a jump-start.

To further refine your focus, go back to each category of items and sub-prioritize each using the numeric system. For example, let’s say I have five “A” items to accomplish on my To Do list. I cannot do them all at the same time but I can do them one at a time. I will look then at all five and ask, “If I could work on only one “A” item today, which one would it be?” That item becomes my “A-1.” Then if I have time to work on an additional item, which item would I do? That item becomes my “A-2.” Continue sub-prioritizing the “A’s” and then apply the same technique to the “B’s” and the “C’s” creating a prioritized action list of all the things you “Have To” do and “Want To” do, listed in the order of their importance helping to keep your focus on the most important items in your day thereby increasing your productivity.

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Dr. Donald E. Wetmore

Certified Executive Coach, Consultant and Trainer
Author, “Organizing Your Life” and “The Productivity Handbook”
Productivity Institute
Personal Productivity Solutions to Leverage Your Impact
127 Jefferson St.
Stratford, CT 06615
(203) 386-8062
(800) 969-3773
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