A great tool to boost productivity

By Marianne Renner: Leadership Coach, Speaker, Author

Do you feel like you have more things to do than you have time or budget to get it done?

Does your list grow longer every day as you cross off one task only to add two more? This is what I call, running on the hamster wheel. It’s that feeling like you’re running like mad and not making much, if any, progress.

Years ago, I discovered a wonderful tool that has become one of my favorite ways to prioritize. It’s called a PICK chart and it helps me decide which tasks I’m going to focus on, which ones will be postponed, and which ones I’ll kick to the curb.

I’ve used this tool with billion-dollar organizations and small teams alike. The beauty of this tool is that it works whether you’re planning strategic priorities for next year or simply trying to organize your week.

The basic premise of the PICK chart is to grade your tasks based on two criteria:

  1. What’s the impact this task will have on helping me reach my goal
  2. What’s the level of difficulty involved in completing the task

Often times, we make a list and go straight for the easiest task to complete. We scan for those easy items because we know how good it’s going to feel to cross something off the list. But the problem is that we don’t consider whether completing the task will significantly help us to reach our goal.

We give priority to things like responding to emails, texts and phone calls, simply because they’re urgently pulling at us. But urgent does not necessarily translate to impactful.

On the other hand, we may choose something that we know will have a huge impact on helping us reach our goal, but we don’t consider how much time, effort, and financial resources will be involved. We end up getting bogged down and stuck on one task, leaving others to blow in the wind.

Considering both of these criteria will help us to prioritize. So, here’s how to use the PICK chart. Following the image included in this article, draw your PICK chart matrix on a white board or piece of flip chart paper. The vertical axis depicts the level of impact (high or low), and the horizontal axis depicting level of difficulty (easy or hard). Label boxes in counter clockwise order starting with the upper right: P-I-C-K.

Then write your tasks either on the white board, or I prefer to write each task on a post-it note so I can easily change my mind and move things around.

Place each task in the appropriate box:

P – Plan for another day: These are tasks that have a high impact, but may be very difficult or costly to do. You may want to set them aside and Plan to do them on another day. But they’re not for now, since they will consume heavy resources.

I – Implement immediately: These tasks will have a high impact on reaching your goal, AND fairly easy to do. So, it’s a no-brainer. Get em done!

C – Your CHOICE: You might want to choose to complete these tasks because they are easy to do. But keep in mind they won’t greatly move the needle on reaching your goal. So, choose wisely.

K – Kick ‘em out!: These tasks have a low impact on helping you achieve your goals AND they’re resource-intensive. No need to keep these on the list.


Here’s another resource to help you make progress on what’s most important. Download my Goals With PURPOSE worksheet to plan and track your most important goals.

2 replies
    • Marianne Renner
      Marianne Renner says:

      Thank you Ashley. I’m glad you found it helpful. Our options for things to do are limitless, but our time is not. Wishing you a productive day!

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