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I was recently chatting to a guy who was complaining that his task list was so long that he couldn’t even work out where to start from. He had all the tasks in Excel but just couldn’t figure out what to do first. Nothing had due dates, just he knew they all needed doing “at some point”.
We had a long chat and I gave him a simple algorithm to help get started.
- First, prioritise each task with a scale of 1 to 5, 1 being vital and 5 being “whenever”
- Next, give each task a difficulty rating of 1 to 5, 1 being easy and 5 being mega tough.
- Finally, sort by priority then by difficulty.
You will end up with a list a bit like this
|Get the kids bags sorted||1||1|
|Paint the Fence||2||2|
|Learn new song||3||2|
|Tidy wiring in living room||3||3|
|Wash the windows||4||3|
|Mow the lawn||5||1|
|Create an app||5||5|
Then, what you are looking for is a “quick win”. Look for the task that has the highest priority with the lowest difficulty, in this case, “Get the kids bags sorted”. This is an easy job that is very important and will get you started. The first step of any journey is always the most difficult and all that jazz.
Algorithm 2.0 – gamified
After this chat, I came home and decided to work it into a slightly more advanced version, that had a little sprinkling of gamification. From one perspective it is already gamified, you have many tasks, broken down into organised manageable tasks. I decided to add a little scoring system though, that would just add to the experience for some (not all of course).
In the new version, there is a little formula that assigns a score based on the difficulty and the priority, The higher the difficulty and the priority – the higher the points value for the task overall.
This allows me to create an overall score and % completion – providing a little progress measurement. This changes as you mark each task completed. This way, whilst there may be more tasks added, the overall score will always increase as you complete them, even though the progress may go down. This still gives you an overall sense of achievement.
What you personally do with this is up to you. You could set yourself some milestones so that at 30 points you may decide to go out for something nice to eat. Then you can decide if you do 2 or 3 low-value tasks or one high-value task.
So you have progress, goal setting and points – not a bad combo really!
I attach the spreadsheet for you to play with, I’d love to see what you can do with it 🙂
Also published on Medium.