In this post I’ll show you how to leverage the simplicity of Apple Reminders to get more done with the 1-3-5 rule:

On any given day, assume that you can only accomplish one big thing, three medium things, and five small things, and narrow down your to-do list to those nine items. - the muse

Start your day with the chosen 1 big thing - working towards 3 medium and 5 small things. This way you make sure you accomplish the most important task of the day first, thus avoid getting caught by the urgency effect.

How to use priorities in Apple Reminders

To implement the 1-3-5 rule, we need a way to flag our tasks as “big”, “medium” or “small”. In Apple Reminders we use the reminder’s priority for this:

Low (!) - a “small” thing Medium (!!) - a “medium” thing High (!!!) - a “big” thing

How to use priorities to flag reminders according to the 1-3-5 rule

How you decide what’s “big”, “medium” or “small” is up to you. Experience shows you should test your to-dos against several criteria and choose their belonging according to your guts feeling. Here’s a brief criteria list to kick things off:

  • How much time does the todo costs you to get done?
  • How much energy does the item costs you to get done?
  • How big is the impact of the task once done?
  • For how long are you avoiding to work on the to-do?
  • Insert your personal criteria here …

Of course the answers to these questions change over time. So you should revise your tasks regularly.

Leverage the builtin “Scheduled” list

After you‘ve flagged your todos with priorities it’s time to decide when you’re going to work on these tasks. For this, simply set a date and time for the reminder. Remember to set only 1 big, 3 medium and 5 small tasks for any given day.

Once you accomplished this, open the „Scheduled“ list of Apple Reminders and you‘ll see the 1-3-5 rule at it‘s finest!

The "Scheduled" list of Apple Reminders

To sum up: We use priorities together with the ability to set a date and time for any reminder to end up with a daily plan in the „Scheduled“ list of Apple Reminders.

One more thing

If you use Apple Reminders to organise your to-do lists, Progress for Apple Reminders can help you to achieve what you want. Give it a try and let me know what you think!

Download on the App Store

Further reading: A Better To-Do List: The 1-3-5 Rule.

Marco Betschart

Marco Betschart loves the never ending journey of exploration, self growth and tech evolution.