How To Effectively Manage Your Priorities – Part II

Post written by Marlon Ribunal.
Follow me on twitter.

[Author’s Note: This is the last part of a two-part series on “How To Effectively Manage Your Priorities” and a quick Review of Field Notes Notebook]

In the first part of this series, we’ve discussed about an effective method of setting your task priorities. Separating your tasks according to the level of concern associated with them can greatly help you focus your attention to the right priorities at any given time. And, by having a clear overview of your tasks in their appropriate category, you can easily determine which tasks need what resources. Knowing the right tools to use and the amount of resources needed beforehand can mitigate your job by a large percentage.

[ From Amazon: “Extreme Productivity: Boost Your Results, Reduce Your Hours” ]

But How To Apply This Method?

Before we proceed further, let me stop referring to this method as “this method”. Let’s give this priority system a name: Concern Based Prioritizing Method.

The traditional ToDo List or Next Action List may not be the suitable tool to use with our Concern Based Prioritizing Method. I’ve mentioned about the problems with the traditional ToDo List in a previous post. In the traditional ToDo List, categorizing your tasks will force you to move your tasks around from time to time as your priorities may shift from one category to another depending upon the demand of your work at that particular day.

Using the “context tag” of a digital version of task management, such as Nirvana, may not be effective either. There must a better way of applying our Concern Based Prioritizing Method in a digital way; but I’ve come up with a offline system that is both simple and intuitive. Yes, it’s paper-based system adapted from the popular Hipster PDA.

Hipster PDA Using Field Notes Notebook

Prioritizing Method With Field NotesHipster PDA is a popular GTD tool hack. I just love how describe this simple tool: “It scales brilliantly, degrades gracefully, supports optional categories and “beaming,” and is configurable to an unlimited number of options.” Let me explain why I prefer an analog tool over a digital one this time. We’ve encountered a system downtime recently at the office because of a county-wide power outage. My tasks lists were of no use because most of them are online (my work task list are on the in-house system, my personal task lists are hosted online). With no current to power the computers, there was not much that I can do except to make the necessary phone calls. I’ve learned a very important lesson there: Papers will not go away in the near future. The old-school paper-based todo list will always have its room for any productivity system despite the advancement of the digital technology.

[ From Amazon: “Extreme Productivity: Boost Your Results, Reduce Your Hours” ]

What We Need:

  • 3 Field Notes Brand Notebook – which you can purchase from
  • 1 Field Notes Brand “General-Purpose Band of Rubber” or any ordinary rubber band to tie the 3 notebooks together when not in use.
  • 3 Message Binder Clips (with the appropriate labels – Urgent, Important, and Can Wait)

How To Assemble:

Perhaps no step-by-step instruction is needed here. I bought the 3 binder clips with the exact messages I need for this GTD tool hack from Walmart. Just in case you’re wondering, this is how the tool looks like after assembling the materials:

Field Notes Brand Notebook GTD System

Why I Use Field Notes Brand Notebook

Field Notes is one of the brands of notebook that I use. I am a big fan of Field Notes. Its 5½ x 3½ inches, 48-page size makes it convenient to carry around in either my back pocket or backpack. I prefer the Graph Field Notes because I can easily draw check-boxes on them, which are just perfect for ToDo or Next Action Lists. The 3 staples that hold the paper look sturdy enough to withstand daily use and the constant shoving in the back pocket. I am using a Sharpie pen to write on the pages and the ink doesn’t bleed through on the back page. This is important because I am using the front and back page.

For the notebook fanatics, here are some specifications:

  • Soft Cover – French Dur-O-Tone 80#C “Packing Brown Wrap,” with a thick, brute force, 1-Color application of “Dachshund Note” black Toyo ink.
  • Pages / Innards – Boise Offset Smooth 50#T “White”, with a fine, soy-based, 1-Color application of “Double Knee Duck Canvas” light brown Toyo ink.
  • Graph Grid – 3/16″ x 2/16″ (4.5mm by 4.5mm)

This pocket-sized notebook is really elegant that is why I prefer using it for my Concern Based Prioritizing Method over the ordinary 3×5 index cards. My ToDo Lists may be ordinary scribbles of the next actions necessary to get things done but they deserve to be written on something elegant. I always carry this “system” with me knowing that I can never rely on digital devices. Field Notes’ slogan is just right for me: “I’m not writing it down to remember it later, I am writing it down to remember now.”

[ From Amazon: “Extreme Productivity: Boost Your Results, Reduce Your Hours” ]

If you really want to dig deeper into why I keep a pocket notebook and what it is all about, there is a real tradition behind it (great post from the “Art of Manliness”).

Of course there are other practical application for Field Notes Brand  Notebook, according to the notebook’s back page:

  • Inspired Ramblings
  • Crop Predictions
  • Half-Ass Calculations
  • Big Ideas / Insights
  • Hate Mail
  • Poignant Quotes
  • etc.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

19 Thoughts.

  1. In theory, managing the priorities is quite necessary and could be achieved after using some statistical tools as mentioned in this post and also making some notes and entries in calendar. But the most important and hard part of this productive activity is the implementation.
    Once we get use to the implementation, productivity starts.
    Em@Rent Online Movies recently posted…Rent Online Movies – is the BestMy Profile

  2. hey marlon,

    Been reading your blog for some days and decide to dig this post and start commenting.

    Your style and idea of managing priorities is great and very concise and organized.

    My style is writing on the 3.5 card but i normally use small keyword so that it will trigger my memory too.

    i like short and sweet and neat card to organize myself.
    I just cannot stand how messy my card is going to look like!
    Jardin Smith recently posted…Review On Investing in UK land – Jardin Smith InternationalMy Profile

  3. Pingback: Step 4 of Organization: The Ultimate Planner part 1 | Bybee's Blog

  4. Pingback: How To Effectively Manage Your Priorities - Part I

  5. Wow Marlon, this is some really in-depth advice on how to be more organized. I have to admit, I am more of a “set it and forget it” kind of dude. I try to ingrain the idea in my mind and then remember to do it later in the day. So far it works OK but I also realize that I am not nearly as busy as most people. When things get hectic I will make sure to refer to this post for an updated system. Thanks!
    Steven recently posted…Interview- Rob White of Mind AdventureMy Profile

    • Concepts must be realized for its worth, and what is a concept if you cannot put it into some kind of application?

  6. Wow! A geek who uses notebooks :-) I like it. I am a baby boomer technophobe and feel so comfortable writing things in notebooks. I actually do have 3 and all with copious amounts of notes and other useful information in them. Great post and I’ll know where to come to ask my geeky questions Marlon lol
    Patricia Perth Australia
    Patricia@lavenderuses recently posted…Lavender Products- Why Choose Organic LavenderMy Profile

    • Patricia,

      No problem. Just contact me anytime you have a tech-related problem. And yes, I am a Gen Y guy and I am trying to scale back to old school system.

  7. Hi Marlon:

    Today, I had a look at your blog. It looks extremely presentable. Then I cam to your post. This post is great, you do have only all uppers in it. Everyone needs this information to get better results. Some use it right now. Some need to use it right away to see better results. It is a great education for youngsters who are starting to organize their lives independently first time and tend to forget.

    I personally feel it is very important to start these habits in kids, so they grow up as a mature person and doing a lot more than learning it at a later stage. Our schools do not teach these things. Parents or some special schools must come up with mentors like you to teach what to do and how to do?

    Concern based prioritizing is a very good term. I like it.

    Thank you for an enjoyable post. Keep up the good work.
    Fran Aslam
    Fran Aslam recently posted…Online Networking And Your Personal Network To Blog SitesMy Profile

    • Fran,

      I have to say wow on what you said, “Parents or some special schools must come up with mentors like you to teach what to do and how to do it.”

      I really appreciate that compliment. That gives me a shot of the needed boost!

    • I have a buddy who applies a similar technique. Sometimes our system fails us only because we forget to remember the things we’re supposed to remember at the right moment.

    • I consider myself a geek; and, I am downscaling my productivity systems to the analog version. I know there are many other geeks who are on the same path.

      (If you are one of us, please join me in this journey)

  8. As a fan of the Hipster PDA, I love this idea! Your implementation is very clean and concise. Neater than my current system, that’s for sure.

    I’ve seen similar notebooks at Target. They might not be quite as good quality, but for ease and speed of implementation, they’re out there. I’m thinking that there are also similar MoleSkines out there as well.

    Even if you can’t find the binder clips with the writing on them, a color-coded system would work (using either binder clips or colored paper clips). Red for urgent, yellow for important, some other color (perhaps green) for can wait.
    Adventure-Some Matthew recently posted…Books That Can Change Your LifeMy Profile

    • Matthew,

      Yeah, you can use any kind of notebooks. I prefer the Field Notes, though.This GTD tool hack is more powerful than any iPhone app! Plus, you might agree, that it looks uber cool!

Comments are closed.