1-3-5 Rule

The 1-3-5 rule is a simple yet effective method of organizing your daily to-do list feasibly and sustainably.

Following this rule, you can accomplish things on-time without getting overwhelmed with the workload and avoid playing catch up on never-ending tasks.

What is it?

This productivity method was designed by Betty Liu, the executive vice-chairman of the New York Stock Exchange.

She used to arrange her tasks for a day in a simple 1-3-5 rule that helped her catch up with her daily tasks and increase her productivity.

The idea is to do one major task, three medium tasks, and five small tasks each day. Narrowing your to-do list to only nine tasks helps you easily stay on track with your assignments and meet timelines.

It is ideal for planning the list a night before, so you get straight to work in the morning and not waste the most productive morning hours in planning.

Why does it work?

  • Organizes workflow
  • Helps prioritize tasks
  • Gets the most critical tasks accomplished in due time
  • Prevents procrastination and anxiety
  • Boosts productivity

How does it work?

  1. List Down: The 1-3-5 rule is easy to follow. First of all, list down all your tasks for the week.
  2. Group Together: Group all the major, medium, and minor tasks. The idea is to group tasks according to the time and effort it will take to accomplish them. Some tasks may be significant or lengthy, but they might be a no-brainer.
  3. Plot Daily 1-3-5 Planner: Now plot these tasks in a daily planner according to the 1-3-5 rule, i.e., plan one major task, three medium tasks, and five minor tasks in a day.
  4. Follow: Start by doing the biggest or major task first. The bigger tasks are usually the hardest. Utilize the early hours of the day to get the most complex tasks done so that you feel accomplished in the latter half of the day.

This rules-out procrastination and anxiety and helps you stay productive throughout the day.

First 90 Days in Action

Allen is a hard-working software engineer dedicated to his work, but he struggles with staying productive throughout the week.

He often works well for a day or two at the start but feels exhausted by the end of the week.

This is because he tries to accomplish his major deliverables first in the week, which takes most of the hours of his day, and he feels burn-out by the end of the week.

The idea of dividing his workload in a 1-3-5 rule seemed workable to him, so he planned to follow this method in the coming week.

On Sunday night, Allen listed down all his tasks for the coming week and estimated the time and effort it would take to do these tasks.

Then he grouped all the tasks as big, medium, and small. He then planned on spending 4 hours on one big task each day, 2 hours on three medium tasks, and 1 hour on doing small tasks.

Moreover, he kept 1 hour of his 8-hour workday to tackle emergency or urgent tasks that might come in.

The following week, he started his work following the planner he prepared and felt that he could accomplish all his major and minor tasks throughout the week without feeling burn-out or exhausted by mid-week.

The 1-3-5- rule was worth following for him.

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