I often get asked how to prioritise a To Do List.

One answer I give, is that it is impossible to properly prioritise your to do list if you don’t have a plan. The ability to manage your time effectively has to start with the planning process. So create your plan first.

Now focusing on how to prioritise a To Do List is about understanding what is important to you. That comes from your plan. Once you have your list prepared, you can break the activities on your list into 3 categories,

1.       Activities relating to the long term future These activities could be, marketing, creating systems, attending networking events, planning, training employees, making prospecting phone calls, etc. They are aimed at growing and developing the business. They could be aimed at rectifying some of the issues that you face day to day in the business, that when resolved will eliminate some of the problems that constantly eat up your day.

2.       Activities relating to short term future These activities could be, following up on a lead, going to a networking event, making appointments for later in the week or next week with prospects and clients, etc. they relate to activities that can resolve your problems or that generate new business over the next 2 to 3 weeks.

3.       Activities relating to today These activities could be completing a contract of sale and getting it to a prospect to sign off, it could be answering emails, it could be follow up on an appointment with a customer or prospect, it could be making calls to a prospect or client about a sale you have underway now, etc. These activities relate to the now things. When most people prioritise a To Do List, because they don’t have a plan for their success, they start by selecting the activities relating to the immediate issues of today as their biggest priorities and plan that when they are completed, they will then do the activities relating to the future. The problem is, with constant interruptions, distractions and procrastination, they never get to the things that are important for the future and therefore keep chasing their tails on the day to day round about.

Here is a basic example of 2 To Do Lists, List 1 as most people prioritise now and list 2 is based on getting everything done.

To Do List 1

  1. Ring Steve to confirm tonight
  2. Check stock of XX product
  3. Ring Sue to confirm their price for XX
  4. Ring Mary to schedule apt for next week
  5. Make 10 prospecting calls
  6. Train Joe on how to solve customer issues

To Do List 2

  1. Train Joe on how to deal with customer issues
  2. Make 10 prospecting calls
  3. Check stock of XX product
  4. Ring Mary to make apt for next week
  5. Ring Sue to confirm price for XX product
  6. Ring Steve to confirm tonight

To Do List 1 is based on how most people prioritise now, it is based on the old saying I will get the quick items 1 to 4 done first and then do the other two, as they will take longer to do. The problem is items 5 and 6 are about the future, training Joe will stop her from coming in and distracting you constantly during the day wanting help to solve a client problem therefore gaining more productive time for you each day.

Item 5 is about doing the thing you probably don’t like doing and that is making cold calls to potential clients. That is where the income comes from. Based on this list prioritisation, items 5 & 6 are unlikely to get done, which means future business comes in slower and you will always be constantly interrupted by Joe.

Your days will not change and you will always be heard saying, there’s not enough hours in the day to get everything done”.  

To Do List 2 is based around having focus and doing the things that will create a better business as you go forward, and free up your time from interruptions.


  1. We take Joe aside to where we can’t be interrupted and train him on solving problems. This might take a couple of sessions, but in the long run will have a major benefit to you.
  2. Making those prospecting phone call is how you generate your leads. They are about the future. Once completed you can get on knowing they have been done. You are no longer stressed about having to do them.
  3. Checking stock of XX product, means you know if the product is available if sold and whether more need to be ordered. Current and future issue solved.
  4. Ringing Marry about an appointment is about the short term future.
  5. Items 4 & 5 are about today’s activities.

Based on this list prioritisation, the likelihood of everything getting done is high, you will have started reducing the interruptions from Joe, which increases your chances of getting everything else done, you will have generated new leads from making the calls, which hopefully will lead to more income and the other easier to do items will also have been completed.

If you really want to get control of your time, when you plan your week and your day, you should prioritise your daily activities based on;

The long term future activities first The short term future activities second The immediate activities third. There should be no more than 1 or 2 items on your list for the long term future in any given day. These items will generally come from your quarterly Action Plan and will take more time to do, so you need to plan for only 1 or 2 in a day. By doing this, you will start to see changes in yourself, your business and your success.

Have a great week.

Peter Johnson – The Time Retriever

The Time Retriever Time Management Coaching is about teaching you and showing how to plan and implement clear strategies on how to eliminate constant Interruptions, Distractions and Procrastination in your day.

P.S. whenever you are ready, there are 3 ways we can help you;