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Say you have several tasks, each with different priorities. What methods or algorithms can I use to divide my time between the tasks? As input, I'd like to have priority and as output a percentage of available time I am to devote to it.

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4 Answers 4

Take the task with highest priority. Devote 100% of your time to it until complete, you hit a block, or your priorities change. Repeat.

Anything else and you're spending too much time thinking about work instead of doing work.

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... not to mention losing time to task/context switching. Good, short, helpful answer. +1. –  Stephan Kolassa Jul 21 at 7:56

While Dennis' answer is suitable for an ideal scenario, in reality you may have conflicting priorities that make this unworkable.

So while there is no algorithm that is going to be appropriate for everyone, you should at the very least look at:

  • Expected effort / resource
    • Will this take you 5 minutes or 5 days
  • Due date
  • How much slippage is allowed
  • Penalties for slippage
  • Assigned importance (by you, by manager, by organisational priority)
    • Is this task important to your local team, but not as important as the company's aims?
    • If you have two conflicting tasks, which one does your manager want completed, and which one does his manager need?
  • If you are relying on other input, when will this input come
  • Are milestones/waypoints agreed/required
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If the OP had asked for help scheduling work, I'd have given him an answer more like this one. –  Dennis S. Jul 21 at 13:11

I agree with the notion of prioritization suggested by the other answers. What I've done is categorize my tasks into the following: A. Difficult and high energy B. Simply time consuming C. Quick and easy

Within those categories, I further sub-categorize by due date: you can decide what works best for your tasks. Could be 1 week, 1 month, indefinite or shorter/longer intervals.

I then process to first delegate my quick and easy or time consuming tasks as much as possible. That could be with a friend, assistant (you can find monthly services for ~$40-50 to cover several tasks), or a colleague/employee. Then I try to tackle the quick and easy tasks. Next step, with a clearer mind, is to find someone to collaborate on the difficult and high energy tasks. Then finally deal with the simply time consuming tasks perhaps in a time crunch manner.

No algorithm but some formula there.

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I agree with Dennis. And my way is, for example, there are many tasks(tasks can be finished in hours and days) you need complete in this month, then make a to do lists of them all, separate them in two groups(one is for hours and the other one is for days), and prioritize them. I will take the highest one, then second.... After I finish one, I will cross it off from my to do lists then go to the next. For those tasks, such as 5 or 10 days, I would prefer spend about 1-2 hours on it everyday and track the progress, such as mark the complete as 25%, 50%...

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