Illustration of a woman with dark hair working on a laptop in a cozy, plant-filled room. She is thinking about the "3-3-3" method, as depicted in a thought bubble with the numbers 3 connected by dashes.

The 3-3-3 Method: The Easiest Way to Prioritize Your Day

Do you find that you're just not accomplishing all the tasks you need to? Are you constantly putting off certain tasks and never actually starting them? When was the last time you intentionally organized your email or a folder within your business?

If you groaned in despair reading this, don't worry. You're not alone. In today's fast-paced world, staying productive is a challenge we all face.

The good news is I have a solution that I know is going to help you get sh!t done and even start crossing off those items that you avoid like the plague! Enter the 3-3-3 Method.

The 3-3-3 Method is simple; 3 hours on your most important tasks, followed by 3 shorter tasks, and then 3 maintenance tasks. If you can check off these 3 boxes in a day, you've had a good day!

What is the 3-3-3 Method?

The 3-3-3 Method is a productivity technique devised by journalist Oliver Burkeman, aimed at enhancing focus and efficiency in daily tasks. Burkeman, known for his insightful views on time management and productivity, introduced this method as a simple yet effective way to approach work and manage time more effectively.

Who is Oliver Burkeman?

Oliver Burkeman is a renowned journalist and author specializing in psychology and self-help topics. Through his writings and research, Burkeman has explored various methods and strategies for improving productivity and well-being. The 3-3-3 Method emerged as one of his contributions to the realm of effective time management techniques.

A woman with long, wavy blonde hair is working on a desktop computer in a bright, cozy room with large windows. The computer screen displays a document and an image of flowers, suggesting she is engaged in a creative or design task. The desk is organized with office supplies and a cup of coffee. She is actively getting tasks completed because she is using the 3-3-3- Method of prioritizing tasks.

How it works

Inspired by the concept of breaking down tasks into smaller, manageable segments, Burkeman introduced the 3-3-3 Method as a structured approach to tackling daily responsibilities.

The method involves dividing your day into three distinct segments:

  • Spend 3 hours on your most important task(s). If you need help figuring out what those are, try the Eisenhower Method for prioritizing your tasks.
  • Complete 3 smaller tasks, typically ones you would avoid doing. This allows you to tick off some of those “oh man, I hate this task,” tasks.
  • Lastly, work on 3 maintenance-type tasks that help to keep your business and life in order. Yes, organizing! Imagine how organized your business would be if you worked on 3 small organization tasks each day! You wouldn't be here reading this, that's how good you'd be! Could your website use some maintenance? If you use WordPress, Diane's website is going to be a must-have in your taskbar. Check it out here at WP Basics Guide

    Note that this time can be used for business or personal. Whatever keeps your life in order (physically and mentally). Go take a walk, try some yoga, or clean and organize your house (remember, an organized space declutters the mind).

    To make sure you're keeping your business organized, I suggest you apply at least half this maintenance time to organizing your business for a healthy work-life balance.

A great way to schedule your time after making your list is to use time blocking and intentional scheduling. The 3-3-3 Method encourages you to prioritize tasks, minimize distractions, and make the most of your working hours by including a well-balanced range of tasks that are important to maintaining a profitable, organized, business.

Infographic illustrating the "3-3-3 Method" divided into three sections: "Important Tasks" with a growth chart, "Important" stamp, and money, "Tasks you avoid" with an image of a person running away, a stressed person, and a sad face, and "Tasks to organize life" with a toolbox, folders, and a person organizing. Each section is separated by a plus sign.

Why you should try the 3-3-3 Method

Benefits of the 3-3-3 Method

Implementing the 3-3-3 Method offers several advantages;

  • Spending 3 hours on your most important tasks will move the needle of your business. This is product creation, blogging, social media, going live for your audience if that's what you do, etc.
  • Completing 3 short tasks that you would avoid is going to reduce that “shit pile” of tasks that you despise doing. We all have a list like this. If you spend a little bit of time each day, that list doesn't get out of control. Say goodbye to procrastination!

    Do you have “look into digital filing naming issues” on your list? I know from many people that this is a common task for the procrastination list.
  • Working on 3 maintenance activities helps you organize your life. How many of us feel burnt out and scrambling to do all the things and it's just impossible? This is the scheduled time to do all those things.

    Organizing your office supplies, organizing your desk (or if you don't have a desk), and organizing your email are just a few examples.

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By dividing your day into focused blocks of time, you can break down intimidating tasks into smaller, more achievable segments.

This approach helps in overcoming procrastination tendencies, as the structured framework encourages you to start and progress on tasks.

Suitability for Different Tasks

The versatility of the 3-3-3 Method makes it applicable across various types of tasks. Whether you are working on complex projects at your job or striving to achieve personal goals, this method can be tailored to suit different needs.

Its adaptable nature allows individuals to map out their day effectively, ensuring that crucial tasks are completed while also leaving room for smaller, often those tasks we avoid, and maintenance activities. The flexibility of the 3-3-3 Method makes it a great tool for enhancing productivity in different aspects of life.

Implementing the 3-3-3 Method

Creating a Task List

To implement the 3-3-3 Method, begin by creating a detailed task list. Here is a free Notion Goal Planner & Task Tracker to get your going.

An advertisement for a 'Free Notion Goal Planner & Task Tracker Template', which includes a visual of a tablet displaying the template with sections for SMART goals and task organization. The image also features a prominent 'Free' starburst icon and text that encourages users to easily record and align their tasks with their SMART goals. The 'Made for Notion' badge at the bottom signals compatibility with the Notion ecosystem, against a stylish background with a blend of neutral and green tones.

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Consider tasks that align with your long-term goals and prioritize them based on urgency and importance (like in the Eisenhower Matrix). You can opt for a mix of challenging and manageable tasks to maintain motivation throughout the day.

Next note the small tasks you'll complete and then the maintenance tasks you'll tackle.

Setting Timers and Tracking Progress

Utilize timers effectively to structure your work blocks (or time blocks) and ensure focused productivity. Tools like Pomodoro timers can help you stay on track during your 3-hour cycle, or you could use the 25-minute Pomodoro intervals for your small tasks, it's totally up to you!

Track your progress by recording completed tasks and reflecting on areas of improvement for increased efficiency.

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Customizing the Method

Embracing the 3-3-3 Method doesn't mean you have to follow it rigidly.

Personalizing the approach to fit your needs is key. If you have a shorter work day ahead of you, then adjust your day to say 2 hours of focused work, 2 shorter tasks and maybe 1 maintenance task.

Experimenting with different variations and tweaking the method to align with your peak productivity hours will significantly impact your output.

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The 3-3-3 Method offers an incredibly straightforward way to tackle your to-do list and increase your productivity.

This method isn't just about getting more doneā€”it's about getting the right things done. You'll be working on focused tasks, tackling that “sh!t list”, and organizing your personal and professional life, each and every day. I call that a win!

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"Be More Productive with the 3-3-3 Method" cover image featuring a bright and organized workspace with a white chair and a laptop. The image from organizeyouronlinebiz.com promotes the 3-3-3 method as an effective strategy for enhancing productivity.
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Creator and CEO of Organize Your Online Biz, Lindsay Trca

Hi, I'm Lindsay!

A blogger dedicated to empowering women entrepreneurs in the online business world. With over 15 years of experience in process documentation and SOP creation, I specialize in streamlining workflows, organizing workspaces, and optimizing digital tools for maximum efficiency. Join me as we transform your business operations with practical insights and budget-friendly solutions.

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