The Must, Should, Want Method is a prioritization framework designed to help individuals and teams effectively sort tasks and responsibilities based on their level of urgency and importance. This method simplifies decision-making by categorizing tasks into three distinct groups: Must do, Should do, and Want to do. By distinguishing between these categories, users can better manage their workload, ensuring that critical tasks are addressed promptly, while still making time for less urgent tasks and personal interests.

Principles of the Must, Should, Want Method

The method operates on the principle that not all tasks are created equal, and understanding the distinction between them can significantly impact productivity and stress levels.

Must Do

These are tasks with a high level of urgency and importance. They are non-negotiable and need to be completed to meet deadlines, fulfill responsibilities, or maintain operations.

Should Do

Tasks in this category are important but not as urgent. They contribute to long-term goals and success but can be scheduled with some flexibility.

Want to Do

These tasks are neither urgent nor crucial but are activities you wish to do. They are often related to personal interests, hobbies, or lower-priority projects that bring satisfaction or relaxation.

Implementing the Must, Should, Want Method

1. Identifying Tasks

Start by listing all tasks without considering their priority. Tools like the Task Planner can be instrumental in capturing all tasks in one place.

2. Categorizing Tasks

Review each task and categorize it as a Must, Should, or Want. This step requires honest assessment of each task’s impact and urgency.

3. Prioritizing Tasks

Once categorized, prioritize tasks within each category based on their deadline, importance, or potential impact. The Goal Planner can help align these tasks with your broader goals.

4. Allocating Time

Use a Time Planner to allocate specific times for Must and Should tasks, ensuring they are given precedence in your schedule. Want tasks can be fit around these priorities as time permits.

5. Reviewing and Adjusting

Regularly review your tasks and their categorizations. Circumstances change, and a task’s priority may shift from Want to Should or Must as deadlines approach or situations evolve.

The Importance of the Must, Should, Want Method in Time Management

While the Must, Should, Want Method does not directly mention time management, its implementation can profoundly affect how time is allocated and used. By providing a clear framework for prioritization, this method helps individuals focus on what truly matters, thereby improving efficiency and productivity. It also ensures that personal and professional development is balanced by incorporating Want tasks into the schedule.


1. Improved Focus

Helps concentrate efforts on tasks that matter most.

2. Stress Reduction

Reduces overwhelm by categorizing tasks based on urgency and importance.

3. Balanced Life

Ensures that personal interests are not neglected in the pursuit of productivity.


1. Subjectivity in Categorization

Determining the right category for each task may be subjective and vary from person to person.

2. Overlooking Want Tasks

There’s a risk that Want tasks are perpetually postponed in favor of more urgent tasks.


The Must, Should, Want Method offers a simple yet effective way to manage tasks and responsibilities. By categorizing tasks into Must do, Should do, and Want to do, individuals can ensure that their time is spent on what truly matters, improving both productivity and personal satisfaction. While challenges exist in implementing this method, the clarity it provides in task prioritization makes it a valuable tool for anyone looking to enhance their organizational skills and overall time management.

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