Thursday, January 12, 2012

Priority Ranking

In another advance in procrastination, I have invented a method of ranking priorities of multiple projects. My primary reason for procrastination is still obscure, and we can just refer to it now by the shorthand term 'laziness'. However, I will maintain that important components of my procrastination include conflict between different projects, difficulty in efficiently organizing time, and inability to perceive in a useful or concrete way the relative priority of multiple alternative actions.

To address these three components, I decided simply to make a list of things which I have to work on, ranging from the immediate and obvious to the more wishful and distant. The list doesn't need to be deeply detailed, only superficially sketched, and it seems necessary that the different items should be mostly independent of one another. Having created this list, I then create a matrix of pairwise comparisons of priority of items in the list. The current list has twelve items, and so there are sixty-six comparisons to be made (twelve times twelve possible comparisons, minus the twelve identity comparisons, and then divided by two since order of comparison is assumed to be unimportant).

Each comparison is a rating on a three point scale. For each comparison, the following question is asked: "Given these two items (column, row), which is more important to work on right now?" If the first item has higher priority, the rating is 1.0; if the second item (i.e. not the first item), the rating is 0.0; if priority appears equivalent, the rating is 0.5. Below I've pasted in the current matrix. Only the values below the main diagonal are filled in; the main diagonal is null since these are meaningless comparisons, and the values above the main diagonal are automatically filled in as the inverse of the corresponding comparison below. Total priority for an item is simply the average over all rows for each column, and is shown in the leftmost column.

I think this system has potential! We'll see if it helps, and if I can keep up with it, updating it regularly. I haven't made up a scheme for what to do with projects that pass some sort of milestone; if a paper is finished (does that happen?), the item would probably just be removed from the list, while projects would transition to papers. There, I just made up a scheme!

Here's to organization!

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