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The 2-list Prioritization Method

Issue #5

The 2-list Prioritization Method

By Luis Duque | Issue #5

Hi Friends,

Before we get into the 2-list strategy of prioritization, you should queue the podcast episode with Stephanie Slocum that was released yesterday. We definitively went a little longer than previous interviews but there is so much great content about entrepreneurship in engineering that we could not cut it short. Stephanie really shared some incredible advice for not only aspiring entrepreneurs but to all young engineers on how to become better engineers. She talks about managing priorities and the habits that helped her write her book She Engineers.

I have been getting back into a routine of studying for the Principles and Practices of Engineering exam so I can become a licensed engineer 😊. If feels wild to me that I am this close to become a PE after so many years of struggles, challenges, rejection, and most importantly successes.

From now until April 23th my top priority is to prepare myself the best I can to pass the exam and honestly if feels pretty exciting. I have been learning for years some skills that will hopefully allow me to do great at this exam. I have been using Notion to keep track of my progress as well as creating a very comprehensive summary of everything as I am allow to bring as many notes as I want (let me know if you would be interested to see the notes in the future).

Taking this exam has made me look closer at my priorities in terms of volunteering with professional organizations. I consider myself someone that has learned to prioritize tasks and projects and I am always looking for ways to simplify the way I do things (this has really come in handy for the podcast). Then I came across Warren Buffet’s 3-step process to prioritization:

  • STEP 1: Write down your top 25 career goals. Note: you could also complete this exercise with goals for a shorter timeline. For example, write down the top 25 things you want to accomplish this week.
  • STEP 2: Then, review his list and circle your top 5 goals.
  • STEP 3: At this point, you should have two lists. The 5 items you have circled is List A and the 20 items you have not circled is List B.

List A is the list you need to focus on right now. This list are the things that are most important to you. In my case, the PE exam is very close to the top of that list. List B represents your avoid-at-all-cost list. This list just became your distraction list. Buffet recommends not focusing on List B until List A is complete.

This to me was surprising because we are all used to longer lists of things we are working on or want to work on. But the art of prioritization is one that is hard to master and apply. We are so used to multitasking and spreading our attention across multiple things at the same time. From now on, let’s make a commitment to focus on the most important tasks first and give our attention to out top 5 priorities. While it is hard to apply it, I have found out that when I do it, I feel more inspired and motivated because I know I am working on the things that matter the most right now.

How do you prioritize your tasks and projects?

Let’s continue Engineering our Future


Quote of the Week

If you have something that is important to you, then eliminate the unrelated and unimportant tasks, get started no matter how big the challenge, and commit to your goal.

From If You Commit to Nothing, You'll Be Distracted by Everything by James Clear resurfaced using Readwise

This Week's Favorites

  1. Podcast: Coincidentally, this week on The ONE Thing Podcast they talked about prioritization, more specifically, thinking like an owner. Imagine if we though as an owner in everything we did. This is a really hard mindset to have but a very beneficial one as it would make you think beyond the minimum effort to get your work done.
  2. Article: I have been trying to develop my writing skills in the past few months (this is one of the reasons I started this newsletter) and just came across this article that talks about a 15-minute writing routine. It talks about how Anthony Trollope wrote over 40 books in 15-minute chunks. This is especially good for fast and measurable results to avoid burnout during such long projects.

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