How good are you at getting things done?
Do you whizz through your to-do list with the effortless grace of a hummingbird flitting from place to place without breaking a sweat?
Or are you more the frantic bull-in-a-china-shop, pull-your-hair-out, oh-gosh-there-just-aren’t-enough-hours-in-the-day type of person?
The truth is that, for the most part, we’re all a little of both.
But no matter where you land on the get-stuff-done spectrum, life is always easier when you have the right tools for the job — and that’s precisely where prioritization software enters the equation.
If you’re a product manager looking to manage individual tasks or a product owner who wants to keep an entire project running smoothly, the right software can make all the difference.
With that in mind, let’s take some time to understand the power of prioritization, why it matters, and then review the best prioritization software for 2020 (and beyond).
Ready to become the master of prioritization? Then let’s dive in.
Before we really dig into the nitty-gritty and show you which prioritization software tools we recommend, let’s start with some of the basics.
We all know that prioritization is important — that’s a given. But it isn’t a superpower; a quality only the very skilled, or lucky, are graced with (even though it may feel that sometimes). In fact, we all have the ability to prioritize.
Some of us may just find it a little harder to access than others.
One of the reasons that we fail to prioritize our tasks and thus potentially miss deadlines or face other problems is that we don’t fully understand the why of prioritization.
So, let’s address that head-on.
Here are three of the best reasons to prioritize your tasks before you set to work on them:
If you’ve ever been in a situation where you’re pushed firmly against a deadline (and who hasn’t?), then you’ll know all about the ‘fighting fires’ feeling.
If you have no idea how, or in what order, to take care of your tasks, you can easily find yourself missing deadlines — and getting in hot water for it, too.
With proper prioritization and the software to enable it, you can prevent stress and improve the quality of your output.
That’s a win-win.
When you’re working as part of a team, it’s easy to become sidetracked — especially if you work remotely.
What you consider to be a high priority might not align perfectly with what the product owner thinks should be done first.
This can quickly lead to a disconnect between the direction you are headed in and the direction the rest of your team — or the business at large — is taking.
The worst part?
You might actually think you’re headed in the right direction when, in reality, the business has other ideas.
This partly comes down to communication, of course.
But prioritization plays a role — and assigning those priorities in the right way does too. If you understand this, then it should be pretty easy to see how proper prioritization — especially that carried out with collaborative prioritization software — can be a game-changer within your career.
If you’re a chronic procrastinator (like many, many of us), you probably already know how it feels to have multiple deadlines looming on the horizon. Pretty icky, right?
But it doesn’t have to be this way. When you begin to work on your prioritization skills, you might just encounter a few surprising benefits along the way.
Take time management, for example.
When you’re spending all of your time juggling deadlines with no clear prioritization, you’ll probably find there’s little time for much else.
On the flip-side, once you actually prioritize your tasks and dedicate the time for each one, you’ll suddenly free up all these extra hours — revealing themselves as if by magic!
Even better, you won’t feel guilty about using them to pursue personal goals because you’ll know that your work tasks are all in order.
Isn’t that refreshing?
There’s a lot of theory behind prioritization. And we really do mean a lot.
In fact — and we recognize the irony here — you can actually get lost down a rather deep rabbit hole if you begin really digging into the science of task prioritization.
Of course, we couldn’t forgive ourselves for sending you into the abyss of knowledge that is prioritization frameworks. So we did it for you.
To truly understand the power of prioritization tools, it’s important to first get to grips with exactly what they’re doing. While each one is different, chances are you’ll find some common threads between them — after all, they’re all based on the same original theories and frameworks.
In fact, in many cases — including airfocus — you’ll find that you can leverage multiple frameworks within the software to see what works best for you.
Perhaps the best way to understand what prioritization frameworks are is by way of example.
So, here are some of the most popular options.
Sometimes, even when you have all of your tasks laid out in front of you, it can still feel impossible to decide how to categorize (and then prioritize) them.
But don’t worry: the RICE framework was developed to solve both of these problems in one go.
As you might imagine, the letters ‘RICE’ represent the categories by which you can define your tasks. Here they are:
Reach. This is a measure of how many end-users or customers would be positively affected by this task.
Impact. This refers to the scale of the difference a change would make. Will it increase sales? Boost revenue? Improve retention?
Confidence. This metric refers to the previous two, giving you the chance to measure how sure you are that each of them is accurate.
Effort. Some tasks require just one person. Others take a whole team. The effort of a task can have a big influence on when it should be tackled.
To use the RICE framework, you simply assign a numeric value to each of these categories, then total it up and sort it from high to low.
Here’s a prioritization framework ideal for use within product teams that use the agile development methodology.
Despite its name, the MoSCoW method actually has nothing to do with the capital of Russia. Instead, the name is a compound acronym referring to four different categories for prioritizing your tasks:
Must haves (M)
Should haves (S)
Could haves (C)
Won’t haves (W)
The MoSCoW method is useful if you are looking to make quick decisions, as it allows you to review the relative importance of several tasks in a single glance.
Want to see the MoSCoW method in action? We talk it through, in more detail, over on our glossary.
No time for RICE? Then why not try ICE?
Put simply, the ICE Scoring Model is a prioritization framework very similar to RICE but designed for speed of decision-making. Carrying out a full RICE analysis can sometimes be a time-consuming task, and you’ve already got enough of those on your plate — so ICE is the solution.
As with most of these frameworks, it’s an initialism, and it stands for:
Unlike RICE, the ICE model doesn’t take into account the reach of a particular task. It also uses a slightly different metric in ‘Ease’ rather than ‘Effort’. Because of these changes, ICE is certainly a less accurate framework, but it may be just what you need in a pinch — especially when working with a remote team.
Now that you’ve got a good grasp of the theory behind prioritization — and why, if you’ll forgive the pun, you should make it a priority — it’s time to get practical.
There’s certainly no shortage of prioritization tools for you to choose from, so let’s try to bring a little clarity with a quick rundown of 5 of the most popular options out there.
Now, we’re not usually the type to toot our own horn, so we’ll try to remain as objective as possible here.
airfocus was created with two key things in mind: task prioritization and roadmap management. Built with support for Kanban boards, Timelines, backlog refinement, and more, airfocus is ideal for product teams looking to streamline their processes.
airfocus starts at $24 per user per month and can scale all the way up to custom packages for enterprise clients.
airfocus currently has an average of 4.3 out of 5.0 stars at G2.com.
Yes. You can try airfocus for free for 14 days without the need for a credit card.
Yes. In fact, templates are one of the platform’s key features, with many available out of the box. These include templates for technology roadmaps, agile sprint roadmaps, and more.
Absolutely. airfocus was designed with a RICE model scoring template. It also features prioritization tools that are unique to the airfocus platform, such as Priority Poker.
There’s no doubt that Jira is one of the most well-known pieces of software in the development world — and for good reason. It offers in-depth task tracking using various project planning methodologies including Kanban and Scrum.
Beyond that, Jira allows fast-paced backlog refinement with drag and drop simplicity.
Jira starts at $10 per month for up to 10 users, then scales up from there. Managed options are available at the enterprise level.
Jira currently has an average of 4.2 out of 5.0 stars on G2.com.
Yes, for up to 10 users with limitations.
While Jira does offer the ability to create templates, these aren’t really focused on prioritization.
Bug and issue tracking is where Jira really shines, so its prioritization features are limited compared to other platforms.
Jira does not come with prioritization frameworks built into the software. It’s possible to add priority boards to manage your backlog with frameworks like RICE and ICE, but this requires a third-party ‘Cloud app’ which may have an additional cost.
Miro is a platform built top-to-bottom for collaboration. Billed as an online whiteboard, Miro allows you and your remote team to share a digital workspace, brainstorm ideas, plan priorities, build mind-maps together, leverage basic agile workflows, and more.
Miro starts at $8 per user month for teams of 2+, when billed annually. Custom pricing is available at the enterprise level.
Miro currently has an average of 4.7 out of 5.0 stars at G2.com.
Yes, with a limited feature set.
Yes. Because Miro is a whiteboard platform, its workspace can be filled with almost anything. Its Template Library allows you to browse various pre-made board setups to use with your team.
While Miro is by its nature a blank slate, you can find templates that enable some basic prioritization frameworks. For example, the Priority Matrix will split the screen into quadrants for assigning task values.
In a world that’s more focused on remote working than ever before, Microsoft Teams has quickly become a mainstay for many businesses. It is a cross-disciplinary tool designed to enable effective communication between teams and remote collaboration on Microsoft Office documents.
Microsoft Teams is available as part of the productivity suite known as Microsoft 365 (which also includes all the classic Office apps). There are various bundles available starting at $5.00 per user per month.
Microsoft Teams currently has an average of 4.2 out of 5.0 stars at G2.com.
Yes, for personal use with a limited feature set.
No. Because the tool is more focused on team communication and collaboration, it doesn’t feature template support. Although files such as Word docs and Excel spreadsheets can be shared and viewed together.
No. The nature of the platform as a collaboration tool means that prioritization tools are not a major focus of Microsoft Teams. Users can, however, use Microsoft’s Priority Matrix integration within Teams to level up this element of the software.
Trello is a visual-based organization tool that allows users to add, move, and manage cards on a digital board. Users can create lists, prioritize tasks, and leverage automation tools to simplify large-scale projects for both at-home and at-work.
For business users, Trello starts at $9.99 per user per month when billed annually. The cost is $12.50 per user per month when billed monthly. Enterprise packages use a sliding scale in which per-user prices reduce as you add more users.
Trello currently has an average of 4.3 out of 5.0 stars at G2.com.
Yes, with a limited feature set.
Yes. Trello offers a template library where templates can be downloaded and used for a variety of purposes, including Kanban templates and agile sprint boards.
No, Trello doesn’t offer any built-in frameworks based on existing prioritization models. However, users are able to download templates from the library which are based on prioritization frameworks.
If you’re anything like, well, most of us, you probably spend quite a lot of time-fighting metaphorical fires on your to-do list. Add a healthy dose of procrastination and you’ve got the perfect storm of stress and anxiety.
If this sounds at all familiar, we’ve got some good news.
We designed airfocus as the antidote to the chaos of working life. Our platform has all the features required to bring a little more Zen into your day: organize your tasks, work more efficiently as a remote team, and create world-class prioritization models right in front of your eyes.
Sound good? If so, there’s never been a better time to give our platform a spin.
Become the master of your to-do list today, prioritize like a pro, rule your roadmaps, and discover the inner peace of knowing that your tasks are perfectly prioritized — all thanks to the power of airfocus.