How to Do the Right Tasks in the Right Order

Tasks in order

You work your todo list all day long.

However, when the day ends you find that several of your most important todos are still undone.

How can that be?

You got many things done, but are left wondering if they were the right things. Looking back, most of your completed items appear to be of low priority and low impact.

The question you need to ask yourself is, “Am I doing the right tasks in the right order?”

The Right Tasks

You keep a todo list and let it remember your tasks so you don’t have to.

You check your list regularly and stick to items from it.

Yet, when your day ends, you feel like you have accomplished many tasks, but not the ones that you needed to get done.

It doesn’t matter how many tasks you complete if you are doing the wrong ones or have them out of priority.

“Productivity is about doing the right tasks in the right order.” (Tweet this quote)

To maximize your productivity efforts, you need to be doing your most important tasks first.

In the Right Order

Take a look at your list now.

Are your tasks in priority order? Or are they all jumbled up with some of your most important tasks buried behind low impact ones?

Capturing all your todos is key. However, the trick is to keep them in the right order.

Here are 5 Tips to Make Sure You Are Doing the Right Tasks in the Right Order:

  1. Prioritize – Do you take the time to prioritize your todo list? It is amazing that so few people actually do this. In fact, many todo apps are missing the ability to prioritize tasks. Take a few minutes to put your tasks in order by their importance.
  2. Today List – Keep your highest priority tasks together. These are the 3–5 tasks that will absolutely positively get done today… no matter what. You can put them in their own “Today List” category or in Wunderlist you can “star” your todos to identify them.
  3. Capture – Don’t let tasks slip by without capturing them to your list. Let your list remember so that you can clear your mind. What may seem like an inconsequential todo now, may be something of top importance later.
  4. Do Your Work First – Make sure the tasks on your list are your tasks. You need to get your work done before you assist others. Otherwise, you will end up doing everyone else’s work, but none of your own.
  5. At the Right Time – Some tasks are better performed at certain times. Time of day, mood, and energy level all play a factor in your productivity. Make sure you are doing the right tasks at the right time based on your daily cycles.

Do the Right Things First

Productivity isn’t always about getting the most number of todos done, but rather the right ones.

Getting a few of your top tasks done is better than finishing 15 miscellaneous ones.

Make sure you order your list today and every day.

And always ask, “Am I doing the right tasks in the right order?”

Question: How do you ensure you do your tasks in the right order?

11 thoughts on “How to Do the Right Tasks in the Right Order

  1. Yes, you’re absolutely right. I’ve been fighting this principle for a while now. I used to be able to do tasks whenever I wanted but life has changed and become very unpredictable. Now I find myself at the end of the day in that exact situation you described. Yes, I got stuff done but not the right stuff. And now it’s 9:00 p.m. and I’m writing tomorrow’s blog post or some other important task. So I’ve been working on doing the most important things first. It definitely does make me feel better at the end of the day when another day fell apart and I got next to nothing done on my list. But by golly, I got the must do’s done.

  2. Nice work.

    If I review my list the night before and identify the 3 important things I need to get done my day is focused and successful. Thanks for the reminder to Prioritize.

    1. Love that tactic. I prioritize the 3-5 things that absolutely must get done each day.

      It amazes me that so many todo apps do not allow easy prioritization of tasks. Many don’t even have a “priority” field anymore.

  3. Of course we all must do our top priority things first. But, we also have to remember to ‘touch’ our someday/maybe list at least once a week. It’s one of our lists and someone has to do them.

  4. Hey Craig, I really like tip 5 – the right time. The biggest challenge I see in an organizational context is that my ‘right time’ might not coincide with someone else’s. People would not only need to be aware of their own right time, but that’s just the start. It also requires a lot of of understanding and communication to learn to sync ourselves with other people’s cycles. In my experience, companies which have a flat structure and are more ‘open’ have higher chances of doing this well.

  5. My favorite is #4. Begin your day in Quadrant 2 – focus on what’s important before you get to those miscellaneous urgent to-dos.

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