Prioritization Tools: Best way to Master Time Management

Prioritization Tools

Having understood the meaning of prioritization, we will now focus on the prioritization tools that we can use to gain clarity on what our important goals are and how we can prioritize them. Well, that’s how most leadership training experts go about during their programs.

There are many prioritization tools available these days. They work equally well for efficiency and effectiveness, i.e. you can either use them to schedule your priorities or to prioritize your schedule.

The two prioritization tools we will discuss today are:

  • Paired Comparison Analysis and
  • Grid Analysis

Using the prioritization tools

The two tools that you will learn are very easy to use and will help you gain clarity on your goals as well.

Paired Comparison Analysis is the comparison of two criteria or benefits with each other. It is like a knock-out tournament, where one opponent wins against the other.

Grid Analysis is a more comprehensive and elaborate way of prioritising goals and tasks.

Let us see how these tools work and how we can apply them to schedule our priorities.

Paired Comparison Analysis

This technique was a result of early psychometric tests used by a number of psychologists and is one of the most preferred choices of not only Coaching & Mentoring experts but also deployed by most CEO coaching trainers.

 How it works:

Paired comparison is like the IPL cricket tournament, where every team plays with the other teams. We compare one choice with all the others before we reach a decision.

  • List the options. Allocate a letter to each. Such as:

A – Completing monthly targets

B – Editing the annual budget report

C–Making the presentation for the 11:00 am meeting tomorrow

D – Preparing the daily to-do list

  • Under the row and column heads, write the options you have identified. Now shade the cells where the options are marked against themselves (as done in the example).
  • Establish criteria and process rules.

Determine the factors that will decide which option is more important than the other. The factors could be the urgency, importance, outcome, etc.

Option A B C D
A: A-3 C-1 D-2
B: B-2 D-1
C: D-3


  • Every option in a row has to be then compared with every option in the corresponding column. Depending upon the factors you choose to evaluate the options, rate the options on a scale of one to three. For example, in the figure given above, we compare option A in the first row with option B in the second row.

Now write the name of the option that has a better ranking in the corresponding cell. Like “A-3” in the sample above.

  • Now write the preferred options with their ratings below. Add these totals up.

A=3, B=2, C=1, D=6

Therefore, we have derived that “D” is the preferred choice.

Option A B C D

Activity: Paired Comparisons

Take the top four options that you think will serve your purpose best and do paired comparisons to find out the most important one.



Total scores


Priorities after paired comparisons

Having understood the Paired Comparison Analysis, let us understand another important tool of effective time management.

Grid Analysis

This technique is also known as Pugh Matrix Analysis, as it was invented by Stuart Pugh, a product engineering expert and a source of inspiration for many corporate trainers across the World.

How it works:

  • Recognize your decisive factors.

Many factors seem important but decide upon a specific number of criteria that will help you make the decision.  For example, you have to relocate to a new city. The criteria you would consider to find a location may be the cost of the house, locality, distance from your work place, availability of parking space.

It is a good idea to choose five to ten criteria in order to make a conclusive decision, feel most employee engagement trainers.

  • Decide upon the rating scale

Define the scale against which you will rate the options. The scales are usually three-point, four-point or five-point. I usually select a scale of one-to-three; where one indicates low, two indicates medium and three indicates high.

  • Identify weightage for the criteria

This step is optional, but I suggest you use it. Weightage is given to criteria in terms of importance over the others. The least important criterion gets a one on weight and the most important gets a five or more depending upon the weighting scale you have chosen.

  • Allocate a letter to each of the options

For example: You have to relocate to a new city. The options available are:

A – to rent a house

B – to buy a house

C – to shift to a paying guest accommodation

D – to live at a cousin’s house

1=Poor, 2=OK, 3=Good



Cost of the house Privacy Distance from work place Parking space TOTAL
Weight 4 5 3 2
A 2*4=8 3*5=15 1*3=3 2*2=4 30
B 1*4=4 3*5=15 2*3=6 3*2=6 31
C 3*4=12 1*5=5 3*3=9 1*2=2 28
D 3*4=12 1*5=5 2*3=6 3*2=6 29
  • Draw a grid.

The options are placed in the rows and the criteria are placed in the columns. If you have chosen weightage then write weights in the first row. The scale that you have chosen for your options must be placed on top of your table so you can see it clearly.

  • Scoring and reaching a conclusion.
  • The first thing you need to do is to rate the options for each of your selected criteria. The rating has to be written in the left corner of each cell. Take for instance that the rating you gave to option A is two (OK) on the criterion of cost. This means that the cost is neither too high nor too low.
  • The next step is to multiply the rating you wrote for the option with the weightage you gave to the criterion. Write the total you get from this equation in the same cell. Referring to the same example, on the criterion of cost, the weight is four. So you multiply the rating with the weight, i.e. 2*4=8.

If we had not included weightage in this option, “A” would have been the top choice. The priority clearly tilted towards “B” when scores were multiplied by weightage.

In the above example, privacy is the most important criterion for you and therefore, its weight is maximum. The least important criterion is parking space. (P.S.: Top corporate trainers deploy this point the most during their outbound training programs)

Now try using this tool for the activity before you use it to prioritise your goals.

 Activity: Grid Analysis

Set priorities of a given day at work, using the grid given above.





1=Poor, 2=OK, 3=Good



Priorities after Grid Analysis


Choosing the prioritization tools

Tool for priority When should you use the tool Drawbacks
Paired Comparisons If there is only one criterion for making the decision, paired comparison works well.

When there is lesser time to make the decision and the decision needs to be made quickly.

It is used when the list of priorities is not too large.

Since there is no evidence, the process becomes subjective

It neglects the importance of gut reaction.

Grid Analysis Grid Analysis is used when you need to make decisions on the basis of evidence.

Used when you have many different criteria for judgement.

Can be used to defend your decision with the help of evidence.

It is time consuming.

Might get confusing if not understood properly.

Hence, these two tools are quite helpful when used regularly. The choice is yours. This chapter was meant to equip you with these tools so that you can schedule your priorities effectively. Once your priorities are scheduled, share them with significant people in your life so that realizing them becomes easy. You can even share these and your own findings with an outbound trainer for the benefits of the trainees in his/her program.

To keep yourself motivated like our Facebook Page Daily Motivation by Dr. Vivek Bindra and subscribe to our YouTube Channel for more Inspirational videos.




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