How to Use The 1-3-5 Rule to Boost Your To-Do List Productivity

The to-Do list is often used not only to organize or remind you of your tasks, but it is also a way you can do to increase your productivity. Listing your tasks and call it your to-do list is easy, but to get them done is another thing.

You might have listed too many tasks that the moment you look at your list you already get tired. Another problem is, perhaps you listed too many unimportant things that end up distracting you from finishing the most important ones.

The oldest tips in finishing your to-do list strategy, you must have heard of it, is to use the scale of priority. That is true. But do you know how many tasks you should get done in one day?

Well according to the 1-3-5 Rule, it is 9 tasks.

How to Use The 1-3-5 Rule to Boost Your To-Do List Productivity

The 1-3-5 rule is basically a list of your nine tasks divided into three different groups: major task, medium task, and small task. And as you might have guessed, the 1-3-5 are the numbers of tasks you must do.

So, the 1-3-5 rule is consisting of 1 major task, 3 medium tasks, and 5 small tasks.

This simple rule has been proven to be one of the best strategies to boost your productivity using only a to-do list. Here is how you can do it too:

First, write down all the tasks you need to do

Write down the tasks you need to do for the week. Make sure the tasks that you write are specific and actionable like “writing 1000 words” instead of “writing” or “working”, that way it will be easier for you to measure your tasks or goals.

You can also write the tasks you have not got the time to do in the previous week.

Then, group them into the major, medium, and small tasks

Now divide those tasks into three different groups we talked about earlier. While doing so, you can also review the task you have written and ask yourself again whether you need to do that or not.

Major task: think of it as something that will influence your work ahead, so the faster you get it done the better it will be for you.

Medium task: to put it simply, pick the tasks that you think will support the quality of work you did on the major task.

So, if you put “write one thousand words article” on the major, then you can put “proofread the article” on the medium ones, and do not forget to pick three tasks to put on this group.

Small task: these are the daily task that does not bind you with strict rule or qualification. It can be “clean up my desk” or “buy groceries in the store”. 

Doing a lot of tasks will require a lot of time too, so make sure you are spending your time on tasks that matter.

Lastly, write your to-do list 

After sorting your tasks into those groups, you can now choose nine tasks to do for each day. Set a reminder in your app or hang the list somewhere visible so you will not forget to do it.

These tips are flexible so if you want to adjust some to your taste or work style, you can definitely do it.

The point of the 1-3-5 rule is prioritization works and Kevin Payne wrote a great guide on Time Doctor if you want to dive more into this rule.