Priority tasking

Priority tasking sounds simple in theory, but in reality, it is hard to implement. This type of ‘tasking’ allows you to identify how you should actually be spending your time, and where. A deep analytical look at your to do list will help you do this. One essential component of priority tasking is understanding that your to do list will never be achieved. This sounds hard to comprehend, but you should create a to do list that you know you can not complete or check off completely. However, I also recognize that I am human, and I hate having a to do list that is never completed. If you can not relate to me, take five minutes to write everything you CAN do the next day. Do not create a list that is achievable. The to do list must have at least 10 tasks. I will say that on average, your to do list might look somewhat similar to the one below:

A average to do list:

  1. Go to class
  2. Do Homework
  3. Assistantship/actual job, the required hours
  4. Asssistantship/actual job, unpaid hours(Lets be honest, we all work more than what we are supposed and are not paid for it)
  5. Cooking/ eating out
  6. Meeting (with your assistantship supervisor or advisor)
  7. Meeting with classmates
  8. Meet your friends
  9. Meeting (that could/should have been an e-mail)
  10. Netflix or another form of procrastination
  11. House (accommodation related) chores
  12. Run errands
  13. Housemate/ Family member duties or responsibilities (If you live alone, replace this with self-care or whatever is pertinent to you)

If your to do list looks different, please feel free to create one in the comments section. I would love to see how they differ.

Like most people, I believe that I am able to multi task at a relatively high rate. I believe that I am able to watch Netflix, listen to spotify, and complete my 15 page paper while having six tabs open with literature to read. This is multi-tasking at a rather modest term. I do recognize that I am also in denial. The article, Technology: Myth of Multitasking, identifies me to be a serial tasker. I will not deny this truth. Also, in reality, I usually have about 10 tabs open. However, I will be honest and say that this is how I used to think, that I was a multi-tasker. I now believe that it is far better to priority task.

Priority tasking is somewhat similar to multi tasking in the sense that we still have many tasks to complete. However, it takes the idea and motivation behind ‘single tasking’ and forces you to choose the most pressing task. Is it possible to do more tasks? Yes. As human beings that are thirsty for success, we always want to do more with our time. But should we? In addition, your supervisors will only remember the one important task you didn’t complete. It does not matter if you completed 98 other tasks, that one important task will be the one that is remembered. And at the end of the day, what do you want to be remembered for?

9 thoughts on “Priority tasking

  • I cannot agree with you anymore! Thanks for sharing! At the end of the day, I want to make my boss happy and my ultimate goal is to have money in my pocket to survive!!!!

  • Rudi – I too am a to-do list maker. Maybe a chronic one at that. It seemed like the articles specified that multitasking was doing more than one thing at the very same time. I learned that I am more of a “serial taker” as the Myth of Multitasking describes. My question is that since it is recommended to incorporate breaks and transitions in the classroom as this is beneficial for student learning, why can’t serial multitasking work in a similar way?

    Just something interesting to share – one of my labmates and I are academic accountability buddies. As she expressed her feelings of being overwhelmed while attending her weekly therapy session, her therapist challenged her to try a new strategy. The therapist recommended making an academic priority list of only three things to complete in a single day; let me repeat JUST THREE THINGS. My labmate shared this with me as she said she thought I could benefit from it as well (lol true). Her and I have been doing this and sharing it with one another each morning. It has been very telling, even in just the first week. Some things I have picked up on are 1) while it is dependent on the tasks at hand, even accomplishing just three things can be a challenge 2) there are certain items that never get checked off because we continue to not neglect them over and over again 3) having to tell someone else that you didn’t get something done (and why) really does help with accountability, even personal accountability.

  • Thanks for sharing. Sometimes I think multi tasking makes me less efficient because I got distracted. I would prefer to begin a to do list with the highest priority.

  • Thank you for sharing Rudi, that list is pretty detailed and mostly like what mine would look. I do have to say though that in the hustle of the first 12, the 13th gets neglected which is essential for all the previous 12 to be fulfilled. Finding it very ironical right now that all.

  • Every day, I make a to-do list. Of course, I never complete it. So, the next day instead of creating a new list, I just add more activities to the list. At the end, I just tried to do the priority activities and I leave the others activities for another day. It seems to work so far.
    Something, interesting that I noticed when I saw your to-do list is that mine only has work-related activities.

  • Thank you so much for your sharing! I agree with you, I never complete the whole to do list, it would be better to make a priority. For me, it is hard to put off #11, I can’t concentrate on studying if I don’t finish house chores.

  • I totally agree with your point here in our word now there are a lot of distractions. The to-do list you provided as you said is the to-do list for any grad or undergrad student use, and it varies from student to another.

  • Thanks for the post! As Diana, I only have work related tasking on my to-do list (on weekdays at least) where they are prioritized and gotten done first and so the ones not ticked are the less main ones and can be postponed. On Sundays, however, my list (not written done) shifts and I start with getting the other non-work ones (major house chores, meeting friends) done as a way to break and do something different. This way has, for the most part, seemed to work okay for me.

  • I appreciated how you reflected on the reading and related it to your own experience of list-making / single-tasking with a multi-task veneer. I agree that I should always make daily lists that will be difficult to achieve – I feel like this pushes me to continually work hard to complete it. It’s putting into practice a bit of psychology. Actually, I discovered a similar situation – less related to multi-tasking – when writing my MA thesis. I would find small ways to stay motivated and keep my writing fresh through such things as trying new music, working in a different place, or simply rewarding myself for finishing large chunks of the project. I note all of this, because I think we need to think about the ways in which we engage with tasks, courses, or teaching. This consideration for “what makes each of us tick” helps us as individuals to manage and attend to our own perceived shortcomings, whatever they may be.

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