For our second article in our Find Your Flow series, we show you how to order your priority list in a way that helps you build momentum and keep focused.
The hardest part of most things is just starting. We’ve all had those mornings where we drag ourselves to our desk, and we just can’t get going. We know what we need to do, but we find any distraction we can to avoid work. If I didn’t have these types of mornings, my office would never get cleaned.
One way I’ve successfully overcome this getting started problem is the order in which I approach my daily priorities. Here’s how to odrer tasks to find your flow, using some terms borrowed from chess (I just watched the Queen’s Gambit).
After I’ve done my daily planning, where I decide on my 10 task priorities for the day, I then determine the order in which I’ll approach these tasks.
Read our first Find Your Flow article on Daily Planning.
The items I put at the top of my list are the quickest and most straightforward to get done. Focusing on these tasks first helps me build momentum for the day, where I can start ticking things off and find my rhythm. Plus, completing many items shortens my list, and the rest of my day isn’t as daunting. Additionally, you don’t have larger tasks that serve as a bottleneck to getting stuff done every day.
In the middle of my list, I load up with the more complex, higher priority projects. I put these items in order of importance to ensure I hit the top priorities first.
By this time in my day, I’ve hopefully hit a rhythm. I’m going down my list item by item without having to overthink about it because I’ve already made a plan. My flow kicks in and helps carry me through the more complex parts of the day with my more significant, less exciting projects.
Pro tip: As you are starting to flag or the day is coming to a close, reevaluate your remaining big priorities for the day. Do you have time to complete them, or should you punt them to another day? Or better yet, can you at least get a start on them today and then push them to another day's priority list. Don’t feel bad about moving a priority back a day or two - you only have so many hours in the day.
For the last hour or so of my day, I aim to reserve my most fun items as a reward for getting through the chunky middlegame items.
There are a couple of reasons I find this powerful. First, I get a huge motivation to push through the middlegame to move onto my fun projects. Second, it helps me stay productive through the later afternoon when I’m getting tired. And on Friday afternoons, I generally couple the endgame with a desk beer, which I need most at that time!
We suggest starting with your daily planning ritual. Here’s how that works if you haven’t started there.
Once you’ve completed your daily task planning and selected your priority list for the day, you can make a specific plan for what order you’ll approach them. I like to do this in the My Day view rather than the All Tasks view so that you won’t be distracted by other backlog items.
Then you can simply drag and drop tasks in the order you want to tackle them.
Then get started on your day! As you go, recalibrate and move any items you don’t think you’ll have time for back into your To Do list.