I don’t like to reinvent the wheel. I prefer to find out what successful people are doing, and model how they are doing it.

Chris Brogan wrote an excellent blog post some time ago about how he prioritized his day. The man is a content output machine; he is one of the indisputable masters of social media.

(He’s got his haters, too, which means his points of view take a stand. I like that.)

When I got his email newsletter outlining his method, I read it avidly. Since I’m a bit of a productivity geek, I decided to give his method a try. While I don’t stick to it every day, this process gives me a reliable touchstone to return to when I feel overwhelmed or confused by the tasks on my plate for the day.

An Important Framework

  • Long Term
  • Important
  • Urgent
  • Maintenance

When I open up my task manager in the morning (I use Cultured Code’s excellent GTD-inspired Mac app, Things) I can rearrange and tag all of the items in my ‘Today’ list.

The very first item on my list is ‘Prioritize.’ It has all 4 of these tags, ‘Long Term,’ ‘Important,’ ‘Urgent,’ and ‘Maintenance.’

As I look through my list, I apply the correct tag to each item. Then I can order them in terms of this hierarchy of priorities, and get to work.

This process forces me to begin work with the long-term projects that will have the greatest eventual payoff. It also prevents me from having my day eaten up by the maintenance tasks which do need doing, but can sometimes blow up to consume much more time than intended.

So I start with Long Term, because that’s how I prioritize my life: for the long term. After doing this for a year, I’ve begun to see some of the gains in reputation and audience that would not have been possible had I been stuck in doing Maintenance tasks for the first half of my day.

How do you prioritize your day? Leave a comment below.