The Four Questions for Choosing Today’s Priorities

Jump Start Monday | Get your week off to a great start with the Day-Timer blog. Each Monday we’re featuring a new tip to help you gain a more productive week at work and at home.
Today’s tip: Separate your “need to” and “want to” tasks

Choosing the wrong things to do each day can get in the way of your productivity, and can have a chaotic affect on your life. I speak often about setting priorities, and here’s a great method for doing it:

Try This:

Separate your tasks into those you need to do, and those you want to do. Use the following criteria for deciding what is a “need to” task:

  1. Is it vital for meeting an upcoming deadline?
  2. Will the task/activity be compromised if not completed today?
  3. Will failure to complete the task have strong negative consequences?
  4. Are there resources available today that might not be present another day?

If your task meets any of the above four questions then it is a “need to” task that must be given priority. Typically, these tasks are labeled “A” tasks on your task list.

Here’s Why:

It’s not always see to see what you should really be doing. Especially when faced with a long list of work tasks. By using a set decision-making process you can consistently separate your priorities for your daily activities.

Give it a shot! Get the truly important things done by choosing your “need to” priorities.

[photo by ivo.spadone]

Day-Timer Spokesperson Jeff Doubek can be reached at

2 thoughts on “The Four Questions for Choosing Today’s Priorities

  1. Prof, I understand your comment, but you’ve got to remember that you only have so much time today, and that time management only works if you discipline yourself to filled your time with activities that make the most sense to your goals, values and balance. Don’t get stuck on only choosing things that are urgent. Many B-level activities must get done each day too, or they all become dire A-level Urgent emergencies. That is too stressful a way to live your life.

    Having a system for prioritizing your activities helps defeat this desire because it highlights what you truly should be doing, right now.

    Hope this helps — Jeff

  2. I understand the idea of completing important tasks first, but I can’t help but wonder if this method could lead to procrastination. I can imagine myself with a “why do today what I can put off until tomorrow” approach. Just because I CAN do it tomorrow, doesn’t mean I shouldn’t do it today. Does that make sense? Advice?

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