The 1 to 6 method for prioritising tasks is a very simple but effective task prioritisation tool that will help you quickly work out what tasks you should be working on first. The idea was provided to us by our friends at Revolution Learning and Development Ltd and is a tool that they use in their time management training courses.
The 1 to 6 method for prioritising tasks helps us to sort tasks by importance using a 1 to 6 scale and suggests that you create criteria for each number that works for you. It is essentially an extension of using high, medium and low for your priorities. Understanding how to prioritise your tasks is a vitally important part of effective time management alongside planning and scheduling your tasks.
The important point of the 1 to 6 method for prioritising tasks is the criteria that you create for each number. The criteria is based on the importance of each task that you have on your to-do list.
In time management, importance is used to describe the consequences associated with the task not being completed or the value it adds if it is completed. Both the value and the consequences should be related to your organisation or business, not you personally. This allows for consistency across the entire business. It also means you are not choosing tasks that just suit you.
The bigger the consequences of not completing the task or the bigger the value the task adds if it does get completed, the higher the importance.
We then use importance to create the criteria for the 1 to 6 method for prioritising tasks.
The 1 to 6 Method For Prioritising Tasks
To use the 1 to 6 method for prioritising tasks, you first need to describe the criteria for each number in your scale. The below is an example of what this might look like:
- Tasks that are very important - if not completed, they have a significant impact on the business, perhaps even stop it from trading.
- Tasks that are important - if not completed they could have an impact on revenue, for example dealing with a customer order or complaint
- Tasks that have to be done - if not completed they could impact on decision making and business growth, for example completing a weekly report
- Tasks that don't need to be done - if not completed may have a minor impact on decision making and business growth
- Tasks that are future projects - for example, research on new initiatives and ideas
- Tasks that add no value - these are the tasks that you know you have to do, but add no value or have no consequences. They will have absolutely no impact at all if not completed
The above is just an example and you should decide your own criteria. You may wish to stick with the main label, but change your description. For example, your role may not include tasks that if not done will stop the business from trading so this would not be relevant to you.
Applying the 1 to 6 Method For Prioritising Tasks
Once you have your criteria worked out, the rest is pretty simple. You work down your to-do list and add a number from your 1 to 6 scale next to each task.
Once you have done that, for every new task you get you should do the same and then set to work on them in order of importance. Start with the tasks you have allocated as 1, then 2 and so on.
In reality, you should try to reduce the amount of 5's and 6's that you do. Better still, you should get rid of them altogether.
As each new task comes in and is assessed you should consider all of the tasks on your list. If your list is filling with priority 1 and priority 2 tasks, you should be taking action to remove or reduce those tasks that are 5 or 6 to make room for more important tasks.
You can use the 1 to 6 method for prioritising tasks with a scheduling tool to help better understand not just what order you have to do things in, but also when you will do them too.
You can learn more about the 1 to 6 method for prioritising tasks by attending a time management training course. Take a look at time management training from our learning development partner Revolution Learning and Development.