ATTENTION: You are viewing a page formatted for mobile devices; to view the full web page, click HERE.

Special User Sections > The Getting Organized Experiment of 2009

Request: Please share your prioritization methods here

(1/9) > >>

Paul Keith:
I don't know how one can, in honesty, tout a prioritization scheme that says starting a blog is more important than making friends.
--- End quote ---

Source: http://www.reddit.com/r/reddit.com/comments/1sxv8/

I think it's a valid criticism and since I don't know how to use SpreadSheets, I've never bothered with complicated or over-simplified grid comparing techniques.

I think this holds true for Project Management too.

For the most part, the prioritization methods I've found are either too focus-centric on tasks to the point that they are more self-reflective projections on what you know or intend on doing first anyway or they are as rigid as GTD contexts and it ends up serving those who can already achieve their tasks rather than help those who have problems with prioritizing...or simply put, it's an optimization hack rather than a "help me!" technique and that's no good for those actually searching for a how to.

mouser:
That's actually a nice link -- while it doesn't always transfer, it's often helpful to see these descriptions of how one might apply military (or another domain) organization principles to other domains.

From that page:
CARVER is an acronym for a military method of target selection.  CARVER stands for Criticality, Accessibility, Return (or Recuperability), Vulnerability, Effect, and Recognizability.  I’ll explain what these are in a moment.

For every potential target, we assign a value of 1 (lowest) to 5 (highest) for each CARVER factor, thereby creating a CARVER matrix.  Then by summing the six CARVER values, we can calculate a total score for each target, and those scores represent the targets’ relative prioritization.  The higher the CARVER score, the more “important” a target becomes.
--- End quote ---

In truth, i've not made any headway on a system of prioritizing my list of tasks.  The only breakthrough i've had is in moving to a system that let's me easily choose a few items to work on at any given time, and easily lay those out in front of me, using an index card for each one.  For me this is a huge improvement over keeping todo lists -- at least it lets me select a couple high priority items and easily set them in front of me for focus.

raybeere:
In fairness, if you read the entire article, the system didn't say that starting a blog was more important than making friends. The point was that starting a blog is relatively quick and easy - and might even help you make new friends ;) - whereas "make new friends" is an enormous, fuzzy task which won't get you anywhere until you develop a more specific strategy for doing so.

That said, I have a system which works well - for me, at least. The underlying idea is that you can often reliably decide which is the more important of any pair of tasks. So you pair up every possible pairing of the tasks you need to prioritise, list the "winner" of each pairing, then calculate the relative priorities based on the total score of each item.

I built a very clunky WordPerfect macro, one which is only good for (if I recall correctly) a list of fifty or fewer tasks - because I couldn't be bothered expanding the routine any further. First, it asks you to enter each task, and it stores each of these and counts the total. Then, it pairs up each possible set of tasks, and asks you which of the two is most important. It keeps track of these votes, and generates a final list with the item having the most total votes at the top, and the item with the fewest votes at the bottom - also indicating the percentage of votes each item received.

Yes, I've still found that there are some instances where it is hard to make up my mind. But in those cases, it is close anyway - and over a list of five or more items, it seems to average out the uncertainty and arrive at a fairly useful result. The one flaw, which should be obvious, is that it relies on the user's judgment. If I stubbornly insist on regarding some huge, unmanageable project as highly important, this system won't save me. But, of course, any time you assign any values in any system, your own prejudices are the most unvarying weakness.

Paul Keith:
whereas "make new friends" is an enormous, fuzzy task which won't get you anywhere until you develop a more specific strategy for doing so.
--- End quote ---

I find talking to random strangers work although I've heard you can get some too by joining a forum.  :Thmbsup:

of course, any time you assign any values in any system, your own prejudices are the most unvarying weakness.
--- End quote ---

True. That's why I opted to make this a survey-ish topic instead of sharing my own prioritization categories. I felt what's more at stake is to have everything out first to contrast and compare rather than stress-testing any prioritizer.

That said, I would love a lightweight cross-platform NANY that allows for auto-sorting for people like me who doesn't know how to use macros.

IainB:
The most powerful tool that I ever came across for getting things done was the "ABC" method. This was long before the term "GTD" was coined, and was taught to me by a project manager (I was working in a Business Analyst role) in about 1977.
I have used the ABC method over many years and to good effect, and modified/augmented it only slightly. I have coached people in its use, and they have then been able to quite literally transform and take control of their busy lives.

The ABC method of prioritisation for tasks:

* A = Urgent AND Important
* B = Important BUT NOT Urgent
* C = Neither Urgent NOR Important(There is arguably a logical 4th category: Urgent BUT NOT Important. However, this makes little sense as it is ambiguous, so it gets left out.)

The ABC method of prioritisation for user requirements in a system development:
A = Mandatory
B = Highly desirable
C = Nice-to-have

The ABC method for tasks focusses the mind wonderfully, and helps you to PLAN and to make decisions:

* You only need to worry about dates for the "A's" - as they are urgent. Some "A's" might need to be done before others - dependencies.
* You therefore address the "A's" first.
* The "B's" can be picked up and worked on as and when you have some slack time whilst addressing the "A's".
* The "C's" can be forgotten - because they are largely irrelevant (by definition) in the overall scheme of things.
* Events outside of your control may cause the priorities to be up- or down-graded.
The ABC method for requirements also focusses the mind wonderfully, and helps you to PLAN and to make decisions:

* You MUST address the "A's" - all of them, and you need to identify any potential/actual interdependencies.
* You negotiate with the users as to which "B's" are going to be included.
* The "B's" usually take 2nd place to the "A's" in the queue for resource allocation.
* The "C's" can be forgotten - because they are largely irrelevant (by definition) in the overall scheme of things.
* Events outside of your control may cause the priorities to be up- or down-graded.
How I applied the method:
* Media: I tried using index cards, but it was too fiddly and so I moved to having 3 clear plastic folders - one for each of the 3 priorities.
In each folder I could have n sheets of paper forms. Each form was photocopied from a template. Each sheet had ruled lines down the page, with columns reading from left to right, as follows. You could only write on the form in pencil.
   *   Priority: value could be A or B or C, but you only needed to write the priority in if/when it changed from that of the sheet.
   *   Details/References: value is free text.
   *   Action: value is typically one or more of these:
                  Status flag: ToDo; WIP; Done; ARR (Awaiting Response/Reply);
                  Who: the initials of the person who was assigned to carry out this task;
                  Activity required: Do it; Call; Email; Meeting;
                  Date: due (usually for "A's" only); done.
                (You need to use pencil and eraser to update these.)

* Priority changes: Rarely - and usually as a result of a mistake somewhere - an "A" entry would be downgraded to "B", and similarly a "B" would be downgraded to a "C".
The usual change was a "B" entry being upgraded to an "A", as and when it became time-critical.
To effect the change, you transcribe that entry onto the other appropriate form and rub it off that line where it had been on the original form (where it now no longer belonged).

ABC computer-based method: In 1989/1990, I started using Lotus Agenda, a PIM which was ideal for automating the recording and dynamic updating of the ToDo list and details of any associated data. Lotus Agenda is obsolete now, and I have not found any software that can perform as well as this since, so it is back to the paper-based method. However, I was surprised to see that something similar was starting to be achieved with a Firefox/Chrome add-on called "GTD for Gmail" (still in ß), until they changed ("improved") it a week ago and apparently ruined the emerging potential. I think the developers probably failed to see/understand the significance or potential of what it was that they were building - you sometimes get a lot of that in IT.

Hope this helps or is of use.

Navigation

[0] Message Index

[#] Next page

Go to full version