If you’re looking for a way to upgrade your standard to-do list to be more efficient, David Nour, founder of The Nour Group, Inc., writes about a useful alternative in Fast Company: Turn it to a SUG list.
SUG stands for Seriousness, Urgency and Growth. When you’re creating your daily, weekly or monthly lists, you want to take those three things into account to better see how to structure your time. Consider:
- Seriousness: How important is this task or issue?
- Urgency: How long will it take to complete?
- Growth: Will this issue get worse if I wait to tackle it?
You can use a four-column spreadsheet or make your own chart on a piece of paper, with Seriousness, Urgency and Growth each at the top of one of the columns. “Then grade each item using ‘high’, ‘medium’ or ‘low’ for seriousness and urgency and ‘yes’ or ‘no’ for growth.”
This will help you determine which tasks need to be accomplished first: Prioritise those that follow a High-High-Yes pattern.
“If two items rank identically in the first column, the next column will be the tiebreaker, and so on,” suggests Nour. “For those that rank identically in the ‘seriousness’ column, use the subsequent column as a tiebreaker, and so on.”
Here’s a simplified example:
If you have multiple tasks ranked High-High-Yes, consider the time involved in completing them, or another metric you deem important. In the example above, it’s going to take much less time to pay a credit card bill online than send out a newsletter, so it makes sense to get that out of the way first. You’ll free up mental space for other tasks, and you’ll have the satisfaction of crossing something off of your list, a win-win.