Time is your scarcest and most precious resource; once you spend it, you can’t get it back. By taking a micro approach to prioritization, you preclude any end-of-the-day regret about how you’ve managed your time over the last 24 hours.
You should implement the micro approach into your life as often as your activities change. The micro approach allows you to take into account all the tasks for which you are responsible in order to rank them on a priority list. Taking a micro approach to prioritization provides you with the clarity you need to understand the impact each task has on your productivity, and thus helps you prioritize tasks.
The Micro Approach
Individuals who use the micro approach plan out their time in advance at the action level. The ideal period for planning out time is every week. You should make it a habit to block out time every Sunday evening or Monday morning to organize all your tasks for the upcoming week.
The premise behind this weekly organization of time is to generate the highest return on each of the 168 precious hours (24×7) in a seven-day period. This is not to say that every hour will be a productive one; you should not only plan time to complete tasks, but to rest, have fun, and socialize with others.
A micro approach to prioritization is critical for tasks in the Quadrant 1 category (both urgent and important). Since these tasks demand time and immediate attention, prioritization is needed to know which tasks to complete first.
Optimize Use of Time
An optimal use of time comes down to identifying two factors: your highest priority goals and your highest priority action items within the plans that you have created to achieve the goals.
Time is a limited resource, so it’s smart to limit the number of goals set in any given timeframe as well. Since the set number of hours in a week are 168, it’s simply not possible to go over this time constraint. Throughout this process, it may become apparent that some goals should be deferred to another time.
Of course, all the constraints in the world will not make up for bad time management skills. In addition to prioritizing tasks effectively, proper time management is essential to stay on track to accomplish these tasks.
One study looking at UK workers found that employees spent upwards of two hours per day procrastinating. Workers wasted this time checking social media, daydreaming, or socializing with coworkers. This weekly procrastination meant that workers were wasting 10 hours of their weekly 168 hours.
By creating a plan that maximizes the use of the 168 hours a week, you can limit the amount of time spent procrastinating. Any time spent socializing or otherwise can be blocked off for specific social hours, but the time that is meant to be productive has its place in the process.
The process is meant to help you “calculate” the order of priority in which to take the actions needed to accomplish your goals. It can be used as a tool to accurately score how important each action item is.
The process is designed to prioritize each action (activity) an individual performs during a given week by generating a calculated score for each one. The score is based on the return, which is defined as the impact per unit of time.
Impact / Resource = Return
To do this, one must weigh the activities in each level: Area (health=10), Category (sleep=10), the Subcategory of the action (hours=10), and the Activity (sleeping =10), then multiply to see which scores the highest. Clearly, sleep results in the highest score of 10,000. This makes sense because sleep is the activity that should take up most of the 168 hours in a week.
By scoring the different activities that must be accomplished during the week, you can easily determine which tasks should be scheduled first. After you schedule the higher scoring activities, you may determine that you don’t have room on the schedule for some of the activities. We recommend that you delete, defer, or delegate those activities.
It all comes down to what has the highest impact and sometimes the tasks that you feel are menial have a higher return than they might anticipate. For example, one might assume that taking a walk on their lunch break has less of an impact than answering emails, but when the impact means they have more energy and focus after lunch, the return on the afternoon walk is higher than the return on answering emails at their desk.
This is why the scoring process will be unique to everyone, especially when you take all 168 hours in the week into account. The micro approach to prioritization ensures the highest return on each of those hours.
The Bottom Line
Taking a micro approach to prioritization provides you with clarity on the impact each task has, and thus allows for effective prioritization.
Once you begin this process and start experiencing drastic results in productivity, you will be sold on this new way of managing your tasks and time. Learning to prioritize is a process in itself that can take years to master. Even the most accomplished and successful people procrastinate now and then, and no one can be 100% productive all the time.
If you’re looking to improve your prioritization skills, we recommend checking out The 10 Step Arootah Success Formula. This book teaches you every process we have in our arsenal for achieving success in every area of your life.
How could mastering the micro approach to prioritization impact your life? What are you prioritizing this week? Let us know in the comments!