ForumsTips & TricksPriority interpreted as Value
Priority interpreted as Value
Before using Toodledo, I had grown accustomed to using Priority and Due date as the main two settings for a task. Due date is pretty obvious, at least for tasks that have a natural due date. Priority then becomes the main means to order dateless tasks in some kind of sequence (pipeline).
One thing I always wished I had in those days was a means to preprocess the pipeline by once and for all being able to declare some rough "value" (say on a scale 1-4) of doing the task - so that I would not need to remember or reassess it everytime I went through my list and read the task names.
(Of course I tried the common cheat to "abuse" the Priority field by letting is represent both the timing factor AND the value - but of course this got messy, so I adopted a strict timing interpretation for Priority, and left the value aspect for the future. But now the future seems to have arrived.)
Toodledo has many more data fields than most other systems. Amongst others I discovered it has a field called Status, which immediately seemed to me to be directly timing-oriented. It had values such as "Next Action", "Hold" etc, which intuitively felt more relevant for pipelining purposes than do priority numbers. I got the distinct impression it was actually intended for sequencing purposes. So I started using Due date and Status as my two main fields.
Then what happened to my Priority?
Priority became the value indicator I had always wished I had. And just as intended, I have started to us it in a "timeless" manner like this, which seems to work well for me:
3 Top - Makes a world of difference; totally different scenarios
2 High - Significant consequences; a lot to win or lose; time, money, credibility, prestige, relationships, ...
1 Medium - Noticeable consequences, but not critical
0 Low - I would barely notice the difference myself unless I knew it had been done
-1 Negative (Using this for unrelated filtering purposes)
One of the beauties of having a separate value indicator like this is it becomes "timeless", and needs little or no adjustments during all the time I have it on my list. A small thing remains small even if I decide to do it first thing in the morning. And a critical thing is and normallly will remain to be critical even if I will not start doing it until next year.
I have now been using - and tweaking - this interpretation of Priority (as a measurement of value) for over a month, and I am getting more and more pleased with it. Very pleased indeed, mostly because it holds a useful stable assessment of how worthwhile the task is - totally independent of the urgency or scheduling aspects of it, factors which tend to be more fickle. (I use other fields for timing - Status and Due date).
I have gradually come to use a slightly wider and more ambiguous (dual) definition of Priority than described above, though:
As before (cf. first post) 3Top can mean crucial, life-changing etc, but it now also can mean "highly profitable" even on a small scale. If, for example, I could get 100 bucks by tapping a finger on a table, this would definitely also be a 3Top now, justified not by the 100 as such, but by the profitable proportion of it compared to the effort.
This means I have more 3Tops etc now, and they do have this ambiguity, but this has not disturbed me so far. On the contrary I am very happy to have finally arrived at a workable way of assessing tasks early on, and later be able to use that "unbiased" assessment when, perhaps under pressure, making decisions about if or when to actually deal with this, or postpone it etc.
I want to thank you for sharing all of these updates - I've been using Toodledo for ages and ages but by applying some of the things I've picked up from your posts and your System X I am feeling much more confident in my system. It's really been very helpful to me.
Folke X, I had been using Priority as both timing and value, and you're right, it got confusing. I went through all my tasks last night and made adjustments per your suggestions here and your Simple System X, and I like it a lot so far.
Thanks for sharing your good insights!
This message was edited Sep 17, 2011.
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