Priority gridAlways focus on the critical, the crucial and the quick tasks in order to maximize your use of time. People tell us to prioritize or work on important things first or avoid the tyranny of the urgent or to draw a priority grid consisting of four possible combinations of important and urgent items.

But if we see prioritizing as being too complicated or have problems determining which items are the most important, we simply fail to prioritize at all. After all, it’s a lot easier to simply cross items off a “to-do” list — starting with whatever seems most urgent at the time. As a result we tend to get a lot done of questionable value.

It might simplify the process if you think of all tasks and projects worthy of attention as being critical, crucial or quick.

Critical tasks are ones that are both important and urgent, meaning they will have a direct impact on achieving your goals, and simply too good to pass up. Work on these in the morning or whenever your energy level is highest.

Crucial tasks are those that will impact your goals and fulfill your commitments and may even be just as important, but are frequently not urgent, and can be scheduled into your planner as commitments on future days.

Quick tasks are those that will take no longer than five minutes, add value to your day, and give you an immediate sense of accomplishment. They are motivational, and the brain thrives on short tasks. These can be worked on during idle time, while waiting or whenever you finish a task earlier than expected.

If you’re always working on tasks or activities that are critical, crucial or quick, less important tasks will fall by the wayside. They are the ones that you can leave on your “to-do” list to die a natural death.