MoSCoW Method: How to Prioritize When Everything Feels Important

I’m sure you feel the same as thousands of other people, there is never enough time to do everything you want/have to do. And everything seems important. It’s a universal problem. 

When everything on your To-Do list feels important, but you don’t know what to tackle first, it’s time to use the MoSCoW prioritization technique to make your To-Dos more manageable and easier to complete.

What is Prioritization?

You have 15 tasks on your To-Do list. Which is the most important?

A prioritization technique helps you answer that question by providing you with a method for evaluating the necessity of completing each task on the list. 

It helps you make better decisions about what to do, when to do it, and on which tasks to focus first, and which last. 

Remember the old adage: if everything is important, then nothing is. When you prioritize your tasks in order of real importance, you regain control of your time and push back against unreasonable last-minute assignments.

Pro Tip:

The next time your boss/coworker/client comes to you with new urgent assignments, you can show him your prioritized list and ask him: “What should I cut in order to accommodate this request?” After seeing the importance of other things on the list, urgent requests often suddenly become much less urgent. 

You can also use it against your brain because he is a sneaky little player always on the lookout for new ideas/things to do or new ways to procrastinate on. 

Having a prioritization list is like a shield against distractions.

MoSCoW Prioritization Method for Productivity

MoSCoW prioritization method, also known as the MoSCoW analysis, is one of the most popular prioritization technique for managing tasks/requirements. It can help you with choice paralysis by figuring out what really matters. Consider it a simplified version of the Eisenhower Matrix.

 

The acronym MoSCoW (pronounced like Russia’s capital city) stands for 4 different categories of initiatives:

  • Must do
  • Should do
  • Could do
  • Won’t do (sometimes stand for Wish do)


With MoSCoW method you assign every task on your To-Do list to one of four categories:

M – Must Do

M tasks are things you absolutely have to do – you can put your MIT (most important tasks) tasks here.

S – Should Do

S tasks are things you should do, but they’re a lower priority than M tasks.

C – Could Do

C tasks are nice-to-dos. You’d like to do them, but if you don’t, it’s probably not a big deal.

W – Won't Do

W tasks are things that are simply not worth doing.

How to Use MoSCoW Method on Your To-Dos

After finishing your To-Do list (preferably at night – write down everything you have to do next day/week/month), go through it and assign a MoSCoW category to each task. Then, sort the list by category.

 

M task should be at the top of the list – this is a non-negotiable and must be done task.

Then followed by S tasks (this is something that you need to do, but it’s not critical that it happen right now), which are followed by C tasks (something you’d like to do, but is unnecessary at this moment and can definitely be put off).

W tasks should be eliminated completely because they don’t contribute to your goals. 

 

Peace of advice: always work on your list from the top-down. This way you can ensure that you’re always working on your highest priority tasks first.

 

 

P.S.: This post is a part of a bigger one called The Best Productivity Systems in The World

 

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