Prioritize Day Planner


How To Understand Your Order & Know HOW To Do It – So That You’ll Be More Effective, Not Just Efficient

Learning how to prioritize your tasks using a day planner is the most important element of time management after you master the first rule of effective goal setting – knowing what to do.



There is an inevitable order to Nature. Whether you like it or not, that order must be followed and obeyed.

  • You cannot construct the second and third floors of a building without laying a foundation and finishing the ground floor.
  • You cannot reap a rich harvest without first planting the seed and nurturing the sapling.
  • You cannot run and jump before learning how to sit, stand and then walk.


By knowing the order of things, and respecting the sequence to be followed, you will accomplish more with less effort, and in a shorter time span than if you’re always mindlessly busy and driven by the urge to greater efficiency. Prioritize your day planner to save hours of precious time.

That is an essential difference between the Time Management Tao approach and conventional thinking about how to manage time. It is grounded in a concept called Zugwang and Wuwei.

What Are Zugwang and Wuwei?

Zugwang is a technical chess term which means (in German) “the obligation to move”. In chess, when it is your turn to play, you cannot choose to pass. You must move one piece – even if it means you have no good moves, and even if any move you make will be worse than doing nothing!

But Life is not like that. You are never forced to make a move. Zug is optional. If it is better to do nothing, then you don’t have to act.

Wuwei, in Chinese, means ‘doing nothing’.

There’s an art to Wuwei that has a deep impact on your style of time management. Wuwei doesn’t mean total inaction. It means that you understand the order of things, and then act according to it. It means you practice inaction for all the superfluous or irrelevant things that typically crowd and clutter your day.

In the Tao style of goal setting, you learned how to find your center and identify what things you must get done. By now striving to understand the order in which they must be done, you free yourself to focus exclusively on the right things – without wasting precious time, effort and resources on other stuff.

Wuwei makes you incredibly powerful. Like water dripping constantly on a boulder will eventually wear down and break the rock, your relentless persistence on the most relevant tasks will bear fruit over time.

How To Achieve More Without Doing More

Here is an interesting story, with a powerful moral.

A man was gardening. He planted some bamboo shoots. Watered them daily. Watched them grow slowly.

He was in a hurry, this young man. And soon, he became impatient. He wanted his garden to grow faster. One morning, he came up with an idea.

He pulled each of his plants out of the soil by an inch!

All day long, he was happy because they now looked as if they had grown bigger. But by evening, all of them wilted. In a few more days, all the plants had died.

There’s a time management lesson in this story. Interfering does not help.

When you have done the work, it is important to stand back – and do nothing. That’s what Wuwei means. Getting out of the way. Letting events unfold, efforts take root, processes mature and ripen.

This simple concept in managing time is easy to understand – but difficult to adopt and embrace. We worry a lot. Often about the wrong things. We are tempted to intervene, without first considering if action is really productive.

Understanding the order of things and acquiring fine judgment about the impact of our intervention can help you become more effective – while saving time and working less.


Get Your Timing Right

Good timing is critical to time management. And it is also linked to the order of things. As a practical example, it is wasteful to water your garden soon after a heavy rain, or light a candle when it is bright daylight.

So before rushing to act, take time to plan your work, and think about your timing.

Effective time management begins from the very first step you take. Since you’ve already learned how to know your center and discover the important actions to focus upon, you must now ask yourself if the time is right to do it. If it is, act swiftly and with purpose. If not, wait until it is.

Being Still

For perfect harmony, you must strike a balance between two things:

  • the urge to act
  • the need to wait

Stillness and action are two sides of the same coin. By learning how to slow down and take stock, you’ll gain unique perspective into your priorities… and that will make you infinitely more effective and productive.

When you consciously slow down and pause to think about what you are doing, you’ll expand your awareness, grow more calm, lower expectations, and make wise decisions. Then, you can set about implementing those decisions efficiently.

Prioritize With Your Day Planner

Your day is divided into sections, each with its own specific activities. Many of these sections are scheduled into your day planner, with some flexibility built into them. Others are random and unplanned.

It is more important to get into the habit of completing all tasks that you have listed in your day planner than to rigidly adhere to an externally imposed schedule. At the same time, a totally unplanned day can lead to imbalance and work related stress, laziness and lack of productivity.

You can solve this problem when you prioritize tasks before adding them to your day planner.



A Simple Guide to Prioritize Work

The easiest way to prioritize a task on your to do list is by:

  • how much time you have available for it
  • how important it is to your goals
  • how serious are the consequences of not doing it

But beware of pitfalls in going down this route. When you make profitability the yardstick by which you measure or prioritize all your work, you may become more efficient – yet end up dissatisfied, frustrated and unhappy.

It is difficult to put something last on your day planner (or even keep it off) when others depend upon you, or when the task itself is critical for a major project. The Tao way of managing time, however, is to evaluate work in the bigger context of your higher purpose, and prioritize it accordingly.

When you face conflict or difficulty in setting a priority for your tasks, you must rely upon some time management tools for help. Let’s discuss a few of them.

Paired Comparison Analysis – This helps with decisions involving unclear or subjective criteria. You start by picking the first two items on your list, and deciding which one is more important. Then you repeat the exercise with the next item on your list, working your way down it to identify the highest priority tasks.

Grid Analysis – It is a method helpful for choices involving multiple factors. An Action Priority Matrix can help you diagrammatically plot the value of each task against the time and effort it will take, to quickly spot the highest efficiency items to focus on first.

Urgent/Important Matrix – This groups tasks by their relative urgency and importance. The danger lies in misinterpreting urgent tasks as being important.

Ansoff and Boston matrices – These are of some help in providing “rule of thumb” guides to setting your priorities.

Use Your Day Planner To Organize

Once you successfully prioritize the activities you must focus on, use your day planner to schedule them into your working hours. Research has clearly shown that tasks that are not assigned a particular time frame and duration are the ones that tend to get postponed, or prolonged beyond reasonable limits. This means you cannot get your to-do list completed, which causes stress, anxiety and frustration.

All this can be avoided if you just:

  • create your to do list in a day planner
  • assign each task a particular time slot in your day
  • set an estimated duration for completing it
  • discipline yourself to stick to this schedule

By now, you are well and truly along the path to mastering Time Management Tao.

  • You know how to set goals that are meaningful and let you fulfill your purpose.
  • You are aware of the order of things, and realize the secret of getting more done without having to do more when you prioritize your day planner.
  • There’s just one last thing left – and that’s actually getting things done. We’ll discuss it in the next section.

Turn Goal Setting On Its Head

How To Find Your Center, Know What To Do, & Learn Time Management Techniques To Get It Done


Ask Sarah Randall about goal setting for time management and she grins knowingly.

Ten years in ‘the rat race’ had left her weary and battered, stressed out and care-worn, disillusioned and bitter.

And then, she went on a magical vacation.
Sarah visited Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, and finally India. Along the way, she rested and relaxed, learned about a mystical way of interpreting time, and rediscovered her passion, enthusiasm and purpose.

This is the story of how it happened.

Time Management Tao

A Different Way Of Looking At Time

“The Tao never strives, yet nothing is left undone.”
– Lao Tsu

We often think about time management as a ‘paint by the numbers’ game. You draw up lists of 3, 5 or 10 things to do. You assign a time limit to each. You go at the list like an archer at a shooting gallery, firing away with focus at a target.

Bang! Bang! Bang!

One after another, you chalk off completed tasks – until the list is done.

Except, it never is finished!

New stuff sneaks into your list. Others dump their chores on you. Emergencies and rush-jobs crop up. And before you know it, you’ve been working all day long without getting your ‘to do’ list done.

That’s frustrating. Saddening. Stressful.

“Where did all my time go?” you wonder, anguished at how quickly the day sped past, leaving you almost exactly where you started. “I need more time. A few extra hours in my day!”

That’s how Sarah felt – until she learned to interpret time differently. You can learn it too.

Time Management Tao – The New Approach

It begins with a slight, subtle shift in your perspective of time and goal setting. Let’s talk about it, starting with 3 simple questions:

  • Is What You Do Fun?
  • How Do You Feel While You’re Doing It?
  • Are You Living Your True Purpose?

The answers to these apparently simple questions holds the seed for your new appreciation of time, and a powerful paradigm to help you manage it more effectively.

Time Management Quote

Are You Having Fun?

Now, many people think of fun as being only carefree, frivolous play.

Rarely do we think of our job or work as being fun. But the very best time managers, the really successful folks, those who squeeze the most joy out of life, are the people who have fun all the time, in everything they do.

That’s not really surprising, because whenever you’re having fun, you want to keep on going. You’re in the flow. You aren’t stressed or worried or anxious. Things just keep humming along smoothly.

Okay, I know what you’re about to say. Your job is so serious, important and critical that you can’t have fun!

But fun isn’t being careless or unthinking. Fun is the enjoyment you feel while doing something, the sense of fulfillment when you’ve successfully completed it. And any kind of work can be fun. Yes, even deadly serious, mission-critical and hyper-complex jobs.

The trick, then, is to find the type of work that’s funfor you!

When you look back later, after you’ve finished doing something, you should have a sense of well-being, a deep satisfaction that you’ve done what matters. This applies to your job, your hobbies, your duties, your responsibilities – everything.

The trite goal setting cliche is true. When you find what you love, you won’t work another day in your life… because you’ll be having such fun, it won’t seem like work!

Which brings us to the next question.


How Does Work Feel?

“Happiness is the absence of the striving for happiness.” – Chuang-Tzu

Pause for a moment to ask yourself how you feel about what you do. Your exact role or job title isn’t important. Whether you’re a home-maker or a CEO, a brain surgeon or garbage collector, a teacher or a carpenter, your work makes you feel a certain way.

  • Do you feel happy about what you’re doing?
    Or does your job leave you feeling frustrated and dissatisfied?
  • Are you energized and enthusiastic as you progress through your projects?
    Or is there a sense of being bogged down in worthless, time-wasting activity?
  • Are you proud, feel that you’ve accomplished something?
    Or are you merely taking orders, clocking time, to collect a pay check?


After answering these questions, consider another perspective.

How well suited are you for the work you do?
We each have a unique bio-rhythm and inner clock. Our energy levels and ability to focus and concentrate wax and wane over the course of the day. Whenever your own cycle is matched optimally to the type of work you do, you’ll find everything feels easier, more enjoyable, and fun.

If you’re an early-morning person, scheduling your toughest tasks and intricate projects as the first activities of your day heightens your productivity. But if you’re a late-bloomer, that routine may leave you exhausted and upset.

Doing the work you like and enjoy, on a schedule that matches your own internal clock, can turn time management and goal setting into an easy, effortless exercise.

But it depends on one more thing.


What Is Your Purpose?

Conventional time management teaches goal setting from a certain standpoint. It forces you to set targets and define milestones along the path to reaching it. That approach is excellent to manage projects – but not as effective when it comes to managing something infinitely more complex… your life.

We are spiritual beings housed in a physical form. Sure, we need to sustain and care for that form, through earning a living to meet our basic needs. But unless you are desperately poor or fighting for survival, that alone won’t keep you going for long.

You need more to fulfill your existence. To excite your senses. To challenge your potential. To push you to your limits.

You need a deeper purpose.
Once you clearly identify your purpose, and work towards achieving it in your daily routine, time takes on a different dimension. You’ll discover that there is always abundant time available to get things done. You’ll be more efficient, more focused and more productive – because you’re now working with purpose.

And that, in essence, is what the Time Management Tao approach is rooted in.

Finding Your Center & Knowing WHAT To Do

Time Management Skills

The Stark Contrast With Traditional Time ManagementOpen any book or guide on goal setting or time management and you’ll start with a section about getting better organized. Or making effective lists. Or logging the way you currently spend your time, to identify areas of waste for potential improvement.

That paradigm is broken!

Because it is a formula for higher efficiency, NOT EFFECTIVENESS.

You can become super-efficient at doing the wrong things. It won’t make you happier. It won’t leave you less frustrated. It won’t save you much time.

The biggest problem with adopting the age-old method of managing time by creating your to-do list to work on is that you have no training on what to put on your list.

You end up drawing up a list that’s too long. Or allowing other people to dump their tasks on your list. Or cluttering it up with trivia yourself.

Like a dog chasing it’s own tail, you then end up seeking ways and means to be more efficient at getting those tasks done – without addressing what’s at the root of the problem…

You Don’t Know WHAT To Do
Time Management Tao BEGINS with that core issue. It helps you find your center. Identify what matters most to you. Prioritize it higher than anything else.

Only later do we embark on the next steps, and learn how to

  • Understand your order – know HOW to do it, and
  • Pick your timing – know WHO to use & WHEN


Turn Goal Setting On Its Head

“Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.” – Lao Tzu

Knowing how to set goals is at the heart of effective time management. But goal setting doesn’t have to be formulaic. It is true that most goals fit into 4 broad classes:

  • Financial
  • Health
  • Relationship
  • Spiritual

But within these broad categories, there are thousands of nuances which make your goals distinct from mine, and anyone else’s. The Tao approach to managing time begins by turning goal setting over on its head, and putting YOUR priorities at the top of your list of things to get done.

The Ming Vase Time Management guide about Goal Setting will go deeper into the specific steps you can follow to find out what things are more fun to you, how your energy levels peak and fall, and what your true purpose is – so that you can formulate a set of goals to align with them, making time management effortless and fun.

The way of the Tao is frictionless and stress-free. It leads to a path of harmony and balance. Everything happens in its own time and pace.

  • You’ll learn how to become a facilitator, observer and participant, all at once.
  • You’ll discover the rare joy of working with time, instead of against the clock.
  • You’ll find out why there’s always an abundance of time available for doing what needs to be done.

… if only you cut out the clutter and zero in on what is meaningful.

That’s what Time Management Tao will teach you about goal setting.

Next, before going on to the final tenet of the Tao style of managing time – getting things done – let’s explore the important issues of delegation, maintaining a day planner, and talk about how to prioritize.


Start Here – Time Management

Time Management Start Here

The efficient use of your limited time begins with the internalization of 3 simple tenets that form the cornerstone of Time Management Tao.

If this is the first time you are visiting our time management website, this is a great place to begin your exploration. I will list out a simple sequence to follow through this content-rich site, in order to quickly introduce you to the concepts and allow you to get the highest value from the time you spend here.

A great starting point is these 3 short articles which outline the founding principles of Time Management Tao:

A comprehensive list of all articles, special reports and short courses about better time management can be found on the site’s home page here, or on the Time Management blog here.

I’ll also cordially invite you to sign up to our free email newsletter. It will help you master this simple and effective system of better time management. You’ll receive updates and some exclusive information by email on a regular basis.

You can sign up for free to the Time Tao-Zine email newsletter using the form below:


Recommended Time Management Resources & Tools

1. Simpleology 5.0

An amazing suite of productivity tools that are designed to help you prioritize what’s important to get done on a day to day basis, and then integrate that into the overall context of your bigger picture. The online tools are simple, yet effective in keeping you on track.

Take a free trial and see how you like it

2. How to Focus

A simple ebook that’s barely 50 pages long, yet shares some powerful secrets to avoiding distraction and staying focused on the job at hand. Armed with this information, your productivity will soar.

Download your copy today

3. Rescue Time

You’ll be amazed at just how your computer time is spent when you get the detailed reports from this personal productivity service. Knowing what wastes your precious time will help you eliminate distraction and get more things done.

Try it out for free today

4. How to Set Goals

If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there! It’s far more effective – and fun – to know your destination, and set a clear route towards it. This guide will help you do it quickly and easily.

Pick up this guide here

5. Profit Productivity Blueprint

A efficiency checklist that will work just as well as any mind mapping software in breaking off the shackles of what’s holding you back from massive success.

Take it on a trial run

Time Management Tools | Time Management Tao Home


About Time Management Tao

Time Management Tao strives to move you towards calm, joy and harmony through better time management.

You’ve known many valuable things in your life. But as precious as they may be, there’s something that’s even more valuable.

Your Time
Each of us has 24 hours in our day. Using it wisely can transform our lives. Frittering it away on purposeless activity will have disastrous impact in the long term.

“Time Management Tao” is about managing time better. Embracing the primordial essence, the fundamental nature of the universe… which is rooted in the realization that there’s more than enough time available for the important things in life.

By managing your time guided by the Tao philosophy, you’ll easily find 3 extra hours in your day! Time Management Tao is not just about being more efficient, but also becoming more effective.

And that comes only from seeking and finding balance in all important areas of your life.

Imagine that you’re juggling 5 precious, expensive Ming vases. You can’t afford to drop even one of them.

But without even noticing it, we’re dropping far more precious ‘Ming vases’ in our own life – health, relationships, wealth, spiritual purpose, and our own legacy.

“Time Management Tao” is about learning to juggle our ‘Ming vases’ more comfortably and safely – without dropping any – through better time management. At the heart of this system are the 3 tenets of the Tao method…

To help you master this simple and effective system, I’d love to send you updates and some exclusive information by email on a regular basis. You can sign up for free to the Time Tao-Zine email newsletter using the form below:

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