52 Weeks: #43 Prioritize Your Daily Top 3 To-Dos

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Hi all!  As many of you know, a time management tactic that is invaluable to me is my list notebook.  I won’t go into detail about it here because if you click on that link you can read all about how this brain dumping technique works for me.

Today though I want to concentrate on the step that comes after all that brain dumping.  I take a look at that extensive notebook and I ask myself “out of all these tasks which ones are my top three priorities that must get done today?”.   Making a decision of what top three things I MUST do helps me focus and stay on task when I am tempted to be distracted with all the other things that must get done on my list.  Anything over three would simply overwhelm me, making it difficult to get anything accomplished.  Three always seems like a nice manageable number to me.

credit image: Pirkka Aunola

However that doesn’t mean those are the only things I do in a day, they are just the top three “if nothing else gets done before my head hits the pillow, I can still be proud of myself” tasks.

During the day though as I conquer my top three, I go back to my list and select another three as time permits.  Actually accomplishing something, as opposed to doing parts of many to-dos, is very motivating and I find I get more done this way knowing that at any given time I have no more than three tasks directly in front of me.  Once each batch is completed I’m encouraged to select a few more 🙂

Of course you need to select your top three to-dos reasonably.  Don’t go crazy thinking you have all the time in the world. In other words, don’t set yourself up for failure.

The following is an excerpt from my book:

While I think it’s a great idea to have a running list of all the tasks needed to be completed, I also know it can be so easy for our day to get away from us and feel like nothing was accomplished.  That’s why I always recommend taking a couple of minutes each morning to select, from your notebook list, your top three to-dos for the day.  Concentrate on those three things first and determine to get them done.  That way, no matter what else happens during the day, you can go to bed at night knowing that you hit your target and can feel good about what you’ve accomplished.

What have you got to lose?  Give it a try for a couple of weeks and see if it makes a difference to your day?  Let me know!


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Filed under: 52 Weeks of Organizing, Organizing Basics


11 Responses to 52 Weeks: #43 Prioritize Your Daily Top 3 To-Dos

  1. 1
    Margo says

    Great idea! I know my list is usually really long at the beginning of the week, and by doing the few most important ones for each day, by the end of the week a lot of progress has been made!

  2. 2
    The Bearded Iris says

    This is such a good tip, but one I hardly ever do! No wonder I feel so unaccomplished every day. I use a list making app on my smart phone and it has a feature where I can “star” the top three things to do each day. I am going to give that a shot. Thanks for the reminder! Needed this!

  3. 4
    Claire @ Claire K Creations says

    That is a great way to get things done.

    I read somewhere the other day that your day is like a vase and tasks like rocks. The bigger the task the bigger the rock. If you don’t get the big ones done first and get them in the jar, the little ones will take up all the room and you won’t be able to get the big ones done. That was a great visual for me.

  4. 5
    Holly says

    I have a master to do list that I add items to when I think of them. I then have a weekly planner, and each day I have written down the things I’d like to get done. It’s great as it means I’m not trying to do everything at once, but means I’m not forgetting things that need doing.

  5. 6
    SuperMomWannabe says

    Hey I’m new here…I have six kids, pets, hubby, house, website, and a flooring business we manage from home. I am a flyer (flyin’ by the seat of my pants), but I know organization would bring more time and peace. I may be browsing around here looking for ideas and inspiration. 🙂

  6. 7
    AmyE says

    Your site has helped me so much since I found it in May. One of my biggest stumbling blocks is remembering what I need to do on any given day. Yes, I do use my calendar faithfully but having three children (youngest is 2) and working makes my brain a sieve! I have been trying to write down every night my top three things to do in a day. It does seem to be making a difference. Hopefully I can keep it up!

  7. 8
    Food on the Table says

    My daily planner is consistently jampacked and overwhelming but picking just the top few must-do items makes the entire list more manageable…especially with the holidays hovering.

  8. 9
    Ellie says

    If I plan dinner, keep the laundry moving and the sink empty, I can concentrate on the first three priorities of the day, which change daily.

  9. 10
    Maryann says

    Sorry! I just realized I left the like for MPM here instead.


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