The 0 – 10 Rule: The Key to Time Management


Time management is an essential skill for leaders and professionals alike. It’s about using your time wisely to accomplish goals.

Did you know that 82% of people don’t have a time management strategy? Time management skills are essential in order to accomplish tasks successfully and time effectively. There are many time management tools and time management strategies that help you increase productivity, and avoid time wasters.

What sets The 0-10 Rule apart from other time management techniques? It’s easy, intuitive and quick. This time management technique helps you prioritize tasks in order to focus on what will push your goals closer to the finish line.

Table of Contents

What is Time Management?

The 0-10 Rule is a simple but powerful way to prioritize your tasks. It works by assigning a number to each task on a scale of 0 to 10, where 10 is the most important and 0 is the least important. Once you’ve assigned a number to each task, you focus on completing the tasks with the highest numbers first.

Why focus on the most important tasks at first? Seems pretty obvious right? Well, according to a 2014 study on procrastination and coping, 20-25% of adults worldwide are chronic procrastinators.

This not only means putting off tasks altogether, but also postponing important and complex tasks in favor of simpler ones, that do not have as much impact on the overall goal of the project you’re doing.

Why is this happening?

People postpone complex tasks and focus on simpler ones for a variety of reasons, including:

  • Fear of failure: Complex tasks can be daunting, and people may be afraid of failing at them. This can lead to procrastination, as people try to avoid the negative emotions associated with failure.

  • Perfectionism: People who are perfectionists may have high standards for themselves and their work. This can lead to procrastination, as they may be afraid of not meeting their own expectations.

  • Lack of motivation: People may not be motivated to complete complex tasks, especially if they are not interested in the task or do not see the value in it.

  • Overwhelm: You may feel overwhelmed by the complexity of a task and this can lead to the inability to stay motivated which can lead to procrastination.

  • Lack of planning: People may not have a plan for how to complete a complex task, and this can lead to procrastination.

  • Burnout: You may not have the mental budget to focus on important or complex tasks because of your burnout. The goal of time management is to make sure that your daily life is not in a constant state of feeling overwhelmed. When you are able to manage your time effectively you can reduce stress, have enough time for the things that make you happy, and maximize productivity.

Why is it a problem?

When you focus on less important tasks because of a lack of energy, fear of failure, or improper planning you’re not really moving the needle. It seems like you’re busy all day, doing, doing, doing, but focusing on the wrong things. If you feel like you focus on small tasks that aren’t time-sensitive or that you frequently go over the time limit you might be in need of some time management overhaul.

I’m a firm believer in focusing on what’s the most important thing for you that day in order to feel accomplished and fulfilled. Even with limited energy, you can focus on 2-3 things in one day, but those 2-3 things actually make a difference to your end goal. Basically switch to a do less, but accomplish more.

Time Management Benefits

The benefits of time management go beyond good project management at work or ticking off to-do lists at the end of the day. When you manage time effectively urgent and important tasks don’t get put on the back burner for the last minute, and your career and professional reputation get a boost and more importantly, you’ll stop using break time for doing tasks you forgot about, compromising your downtime.

  • Increased productivity: By prioritizing your tasks and avoiding distractions, you can get more done in less time and spend less energy when doing so.

  • Reduced stress: When you’re feeling overwhelmed, it’s easy to procrastinate. But The 0-10 Rule can help you stay on track and avoid feeling stressed about your workload. Less stress means more mental bandwidth to work with.

  • Improved mental clarity: When you’re clear about what is a 10 for you, you can focus on the task at hand and be more productive. When you have so many things on your plate and are unsure what to tackle first you might end up focusing on the wrong things. that’s why The 0-10 Rule is so powerful. Not only does it help you with prioritizing, but it also gives you mental clarity about the things that absolutely need to get done.

  • Greater sense of accomplishment: When you’re able to cross items off your to-do list, it gives you a sense of accomplishment and motivates you to keep going.

  • Quick and Easy to Use: The 0-10 Rule is intuitive and quick It helps you make decisions quickly based on what is important at that moment. It’s flexible and you can use it for multiple things such as time management and decision-making.

How to Manage Time Better

The 0-10 Rule helped me prioritize and make quick decisions when I was a Ph.D. student and a full-time working mom with 3 young children. In that part of my life, I understood very quickly that I couldn’t possibly do everything without losing my mind. So how did I manage? Prioritize. Prioritize. Prioritize.

The real beauty of The 0-10 Rule is that helps you decide really quickly which tasks need your attention and which ones can stay on standby.

Scaling Priorities and Time Management:

The 0-10 rule can help you identify and prioritize the most important tasks for yourself and your team. This is especially important when you are working on a complex project with multiple tasks.

To use the 0-10 rule for writing tasks, simply assign a number to each task based on its importance and urgency. Then, focus on working on the tasks with a 10 rating first.

For example, if you are working on a project to launch a new product, your top tasks might be:

  • Develop a product marketing plan (10)

  • Design the product packaging (9)

  • Create a sales presentation (8)

  • Write a blog post about the new product (7)

  • Schedule social media posts about the new product (5)

By assigning a number to each task, you can quickly identify the most important things that need to be done. This will help you stay focused and avoid getting sidetracked on less important tasks.

Quick and Efficient Decision-Making:

The 0-10 rule can also be used for on-the-spot decision-making. When you need to make a quick decision, simply ask yourself: “Is this a 10 for me?” If the answer is yes, then the decision is clear. However, if the answer is no, then you may need to take more time to consider all of your options.

For example, if you are asked to speak at a conference, you might ask yourself:

  • Is this a 10 for my career? (9)

  • Is this a 10 for my company? (8)

  • Is this a 10 for my personal development? (7)

By asking yourself these questions, you can quickly get a sense of how important the decision is to you. This will help you make a decision that is aligned with your values and priorities.

Time Management Mistakes

  • Procrastination: Procrastination is the biggest time management mistake you can make. It can lead to missed deadlines, poor work quality, and increased stress.

  • Multitasking: Multitasking may seem like a good way to get more done, but it actually leads to decreased productivity and increased errors.

  • Perfectionism: Perfectionism can lead to procrastination and wasted time. Aim for good enough, not perfect.

  • Not taking breaks: It’s important to take breaks throughout the day to avoid burnout. Get up and move around, or take a few minutes to relax and clear your head. Don’t underestimate the power of a short walk or taking a longer break when you need to. Deep focus is one thing, but never taking breaks will only lead to poor focus and more mistakes because you will become worn out.

Time Management Skills You Need to Develop

Here are some important time management skills to develop:

  • Prioritization: The ability to prioritize your tasks is essential for effective time management. Focus on the most important and urgent tasks first, and delegate or postpone less important tasks whenever possible. Use The 0-10 Rule to prioritize tasks effectively and fast.

  • Focus: It’s important to be able to focus on one task at a time and avoid distractions. If you find yourself getting distracted, take a few minutes to clear your head and come back to the task at hand. Moreover, avoid multitasking. When you try to focus on too many things at once you’ll ultimately lose focus and make mistakes.

  • Planning: Planning your day or week ahead of time can help you stay on track and avoid unexpected surprises. Don’t overplan. Planning every minute of your day is actually unproductive. I can make you feel stressed about not meeting your expectations and your data will get thrown off if something unexpected comes up. Limit your to-do list to your most important task and make sure you set realistic deadlines for yourself.

  • Organization: Being organized can help you save time and avoid losing important documents or information. For this, you can use a digital organizational tool or write things down. It will be much easier to remember what you need to do and will help you visualize your day much better.

  • Time estimation: Being able to accurately estimate how long a task will take can help you create realistic deadlines and avoid overcommitting yourself. This goes hand in hand with not over-planning your day.


There are a number of things you can do to avoid procrastination and boost productivity, such as setting deadlines for yourself, breaking down large tasks into smaller steps, and rewarding yourself for completing tasks. You can also make sure you plan ahead by creating a task list so you can get to your to-do list in a timely manner. Try to minimize distractions as much as possible in order to effectively manage your time.

If you must multitask, try to organize tasks that are similar in nature so that task switching between them doesn’t require a lot of concentration. Make sure to take breaks frequently to avoid burnout and have enough energy for challenging tasks.

If you’re a perfectionist, it’s important to learn to accept that good enough is good enough. Aim to complete your tasks to a high standard, but don’t let perfectionism prevent you from moving on. This might require some self-discipline at first, but it will help in the long run. Remember, being a perfectionist is not back, but getting stuck and not being able to finish anything because of it only increases stress levels and makes your daily tasks pile up. Not nit-picking everything will help you be more efficient and have more free time in order to relax and recharge.

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Dr. Michelle Rozen

Dr. Michelle Rozen, Ph.D., is a highly respected authority on the psychology of change. She is one of the most booked motivational speakers nationwide as well as internationally, and a frequent guest on media outlets such as NBC, ABC, FOX News, and CNN on topics related to dealing with change in our world and in every aspect of our lives, so that we can do better and feel better.

Her most recent book, 2 Second Decisions helps people power through with their most challenging decisions through turbulent times.

Dr. Michelle Rozen consistently speaks for Fortune 500 companies and her clients include some of the most recognizable companies in the world including Johnson & Johnson, Merrill Lynch, Pfizer, and The U.S. Navy. She holds a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in Psychology and resides in the greater NYC area.

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