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The ToDo List: Time Spent Prioritizing

Let me give you some background. I manage a dynamic set of systems in an environment frequented by thousands of people on a daily basis. One of my main goals is to ensure that the systems are efficient, so that they work smoothly and effectively. Cutting out a small action of a task that is repeated hundreds or thousands of times per year can quickly save anyone in the system significant time. I would call this a "Time Saving Multiplier".

As someone who is obsessed with ensuring I complete all of my tasks, I struggled at work with a long ToDo List. The number of items on my list would reach in to the 30's or more. With a dynamic job, things that were not important at first could quickly become important the next day. To compensate, I would re-sort (prioritize) my list constantly, usually several times per day.

Prioritizing my ToDo List helped me both manage my tasks, and stay conscious of what tasks were important. The problem? Incremental time lost to this repeating task.

As a result, I place great value on hacking out useless steps from repeated tasks.

I evaluated the effect on time that Prioritizing my ToDo List was having. First, I realized that on an average day, I may sort my list about once per hour. Each session took about 3 minutes. Besides the fact that it's hard for one person to effectively sort such a long list of tasks, I was spending about 25 minutes per day sorting my ToDo List! Add this up over a week and I was using 2 hours to do something that I wasn't even good at!

And because I have to go there, this adds up to over 100 hours per year spent prioritizing. That's 100 hours that could be spent accomplishing bigger goals, taking longer breaks or building relationships.

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