How to Prioritize and Balance Life

February 24, 2023
Personal Growth

If you are working (or studying), the biggest puzzle you might be facing is how to prioritize your work. Especially if you are working in a startup, there are multiple fires you need to put out and different tasks that you need to do. 

And sometimes, in the heat of the moment, we make decisions like this.

Courtesy: Vincent DNL

Everyone talks about work-life balance. But think about it, when you were studying and preparing for entrance exams, did you not slog 16-20 hours per day? It is not about the number of hours you have put into work. It is about the work you have done in the number of hours. 

The proper prioritization framework is critical to getting impactful work done. 

Let me share a simple plan. You don’t need any fancy tools to do this. A simple pen and paper would do. Once you have used this process and made it a habit, you can go for a tool that can be a digital aid for your process. 

The key is not to prioritize what is on your schedule but to schedule your priorities.  - Stephen Covey

Step 1: Make a List

The first step is to list all the possible tasks you need to get done in a day/week. Don’t go longer than a week. Write down every task that comes to mind. Here are a few guiding questions to help you build the list: 

  • What are the important projects you are working on, and what are the tasks? 
  • Any meetings that need to be set up or attend
  • Any planning that needs to be done?
  • Any administrative tasks that need to be done? 

Step 2: Fix your goals

Think about the goals you want to accomplish within the day or week. First, list the goals, then think about the top 1-3 goals vital to you. When fixing the top goals consider the following: 

  • the resources/cost needed: lower cost gets more score
  • the impact of achieving: higher impact gets more score
  • the excitement you have for working on it: self-explanatory :) 

Rate these factors on a scale of 1-5 and add them up to fix your top goals. (You can add additional factors, but better to keep it simple.)

Honest Prioritization. Courtesy: Quora

Step Three: Align your tasks and goals

Align your tasks to the top goals that you wish to achieve. Group the different tasks based on the goals they contribute towards. From multiple tasks, you would have narrowed down to a few tasks that are the needle movers you need to work towards. Now you have a set of tasks that you need to work on. But even these can be too much to do, and further prioritisation might be needed. 

There are a lot of different ways to prioritise your tasks. I would suggest the LNO framework, as suggested by Shreyas Doshi. While originally suggested for Product Managers, it can work for everyone. 

😇  LNO Framework

Tasks can be classified into three different categories:

  • L for Leverage: These tasks have a 10x impact on your goals. They must be done with complete focus and sincerity. Examples: revenue planning, product launch plan, etc
  • N for Neutral: These tasks require a basic work ethic. You need to be diligent. For example, drafting minutes of meetings and handling team requests. 
  • O for Overhead: Don’t be a perfectionist for these tasks. Do a strictly ok job here. Most admin tasks fall into this category. 

The idea is to know the energy needed to do these tasks. Give more energy to high-impact tasks and low energy to low-impact ones. Don’t be a perfectionist everywhere.

Typically, the L tasks are very involved and require uninterrupted time, so please do it during your best hours. Only Mornings are great times to work is a myth - whatever works for you - morning, afternoon or night is the best time to work.

You must be wondering how all the others can do so well. Trust me; nobody has cracked the perfect formula. There will be days which will feel unproductive. It is ok. You can take a breather and get on with it.

Tool of the Day


Tick Tick

A tool to make a todo list and organize your tasks. Some of its features are folders for different types of tasks (can use it as goals), set up tags (L/N/O), along with a Pomo timer you can use to sit and get your tasks done.

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