I think priorities are a complex problem to approach in a task manager.
For one, priorities aren’t static. What is a top priority today may not be a top priority a month or even a week from now. And how do you assign correct priorities? Do you develop your own system and put the user behind every decision? Or do you let the software in on decisions? E.g. Task A that sits in the top folder for more than x days and is a regularly repeating task should automatically get priority 1.
One way to approach this, if you’re willing to experiment, is to have a context with priorities as sub-contexts.
- Action: 1
- Action: 2
- Action: 3
You could tie these to the familiar parts of the productivity quadrant/Eisenhower matrix/etc. (urgent/important) and have a way to classify them.
From personal experience, I abandonned this way of working for several reasons. For one, you first need to establish clear definitions for each priority. And even if you have set boundaries, there’s a huge cognitive load every time you enter a task. This may be a 2 but on the other hand, maybe it’s a 1 really? It makes it really hard to enter tasks over time because it adds an element of friction to the creation of every single task. Secondly, I found it made very little difference to actually completing tasks. I would automatically do the highest priority items first, regardless of their status as a 1.
I now simply have a list of next actions and I flag tasks that require a priority.
For me, I wouldn’t say priorities are the most challenging thing for productivity systems to solve. Since, in essence, they are symptoms of an imbalance on a higher level: long-term planning vs short-term items on a to do list.
What a great productivity system should do is connect the dots: forcing you to establish future goals and outcomes and have them trickle down in correct and relevant to do items, today.