With the growing number of people shifting to work from home, it is of paramount importance to be productive in a homely environment. So how do you stay productive in an environment that is meant to make you feel at ease and chill?

One of the simplest techniques is Creating a To-do list and listing down all your priorities. This is where the 1-3-5 rule of to-do list comes into the picture. The rule helps us in achieving a significant amount of tasks in a single day.

It has become a challenge during this pandemic to maintain employee and personal productivity. Many companies are trying to increase employee productivity by using various productivity methods and techniques.

The 1-3-5 rule can be implemented at the project level to help employees focus on the tasks at hand and accomplish big tasks fast. Though I would say this technique is not suitable for all professions. But it can be a starting point to help employees tackle procrastination by getting daily feedback on the number of tasks accomplished each day.

Getting daily feedback can help increase productivity significantly and make it much easier to see results. Constant feedback is the crust of all productivity methods be it a 5-hour rule or be it 2-minute rule to counter procrastination

Let’s deep dive into understanding what is the 1-3-5 rule, how to use the rule, and some other advanced techniques to make life easier with the 1-3-5 rule. 

What is the 1-3-5 Rule?

The 1-3-5 rules are one of the many to-do list strategies that you can use to manage daily tasks and even counter procrastination. The simple to-do list technique makes it easier to manage difficult tasks and get things done.

The 1-3-5 Rule is quite simple: you need to categorize your daily tasks into Major tasks, Medium tasks, and Simple tasks. Once you have identified it you can now create a to-do list with 1 Major Task, 3 Medium tasks, and 5 simple tasks. 

The important aspect of this technique is that you can accomplish a total of 9 tasks each day. Then over a period of time, you can track your progress and add more tasks to your bin accessing your capability.

How to apply the 1-3-5 Rule

1-3-5 rule
1-3-5 rule for students

While working with the 1-3-5 rule, the foremost thing to do is to make a list of tasks that needs to be accomplished. Once you create a pool of tasks, now every day add items to your daily to-do list from this available pool of tasks. 

Categorize your task into Major: the one which requires 2-3 hours of your time, Medium which requires 45 min to 1 hour of your time, and small which requires less than 30 min. 

Now when you have created your list, how do you go about working with this list? It is important to work with this list efficiently otherwise it might burn you out. If you continuously work on 5 small tasks you will not have any energy left to work on major tasks.

The most optimal way according to my personal experience is starting your day with one simple task. If you have two simple tasks like paying the electricity bill and phone bill which would take less than 15 min then start with these tasks. 

Once you finish a simple task your mind is in a winner’s mindset, so continue on this high and start with the major task. Completing the major task of the day before noon is a very good way to tackle procrastination.

Then once done you can mix the medium task and small tasks for the rest of the day and complete the to-do list by the end of the day.

How to make most of 1 3 5 rule

The 1-3-5 rule is the central idea but to make the most of this idea there are some complimentary ideas. These ideas complement the 1-3-5 rule and help you to make most of the rule.

These are not predefined rules but something that I tried and tested while implementing the 1-3-5 rule. While trying to work on ideas like the Ivy Lee Method and other to-do list ideas I came across these methods.

1-3-5 rule
1-3-5 rule guide

So to increase the overall productivity with the rule I thought of implementing these listed methods. And it did wonders! Let’s understand how to make the most of the 1-3-5 rule for utmost productivity.

Use these below-mentioned methods to optimize the 1-3-5 rule. The below method complements the rule and helps you get the most out of the time you spend doing a task.

Use Brain Dumping Method

Brain dumping is a simple and effective method to create a list of tasks to work on in the future. Brain dump basically means you dump down an idea immediately as it comes to you. This method makes it easy for you to create a to-do list later.

While creating a to-do list it becomes easier to add tasks to the list since you already have a bunch of tasks in your brain dump. You can easily pick the items and add them to the list. 

Brain dump helps in not missing out on any important task. People often say that I will do this later, but later they don’t remember what they wanted to do. Our brain is meant to generate ideas, not to store them.  

Ideas need to be written down, that’s why for centuries people have been writing down ideas and not telling them. Because it makes it easier to manage and operate on.

Use Pandora technique

Pandora is a simple time management technique developed by University student Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s. The technique is quite simple to understand and use. The technique helps users focus on tasks and work more efficiently without getting burned out.

The Pandora technique is as follows

Step 1: Pick a task and a timer

Step 2: Set the timer to 25 seconds.

Step 3: Work the tasks from the list of tasks. Make sure you are in a distraction free environment.

Step 4: Once the time is up. Take a 5 Minute break. And then continue with the pandora technique again.

Step 5: After every 4 Pandora’s take a 15-20 minute break. 

The pandora technique is quite helpful for people who are easily distracted. If you have a problem managing your time studying or learning you can use the pandora technique.

I personally have been using the pandora technique for the past 1.5 years and I really enjoy this technique. Since most of my learning happens over the browser, I use the Pandora technique chrome extension for my personal use. This extension automatically sets the timer for 25 seconds and once my time is up it automatically takes me to a new tab where there’s a message saying your 25 minute is up take a break. 

I personally would suggest a pandora technique to all people trying to manage their time and focus. The pandora technique is a great add-on to the 1-3-5 rule. This can help you get the most out of the method.

Take Timely Breaks

Taking breaks is an important aspect of productive work. If you want to make the most of the amount of time spent, then you need to take a break. People you work for continuously long hours tend to burn out in the end.

Burnout will make you less interested in the work that you are doing. Eventually, you lose interest in that task and this leads to procrastination. To avoid this situation it is always advisable to break regular intervals and let your mind breadth a little.

If you are using the pandora technique then take a break after every pandora section, or if you are in the zone then take a break after every 2 pandora sections. This will not break your flow but will help you remain fresh throughout the 9-10 hours of the workday.

1-3-5 rule template

1-3-5 rule template
1-3-5 rule template

I have designed a 1-3-5 template for daily use and productivity. I had created this with the purpose of my own self-use, but now that I am writing about the rule I thought why not give it to you guys.

Here there are 2 templates available for use. The first one is a free 1-3-5 rule Notion template, which you can access from the link below. 

Get 1-3-5 Rule Notion template

The second template is a digital 1-3-5 rule pdf template that you can download and then simply print and use for daily purposes. This template is available for $5. You can access the 1-3-5 rule pdf template from the link below.

PDF Template Coming Soon…

If you are someone who cannot afford a paid template I totally understand. You can use the notion 1-3-5 template and use it on the notion. 

1-3-5 Rule App.

There are many online to-do list applications to choose from to create a 1-3-5 rule to-do list. But of all, I would suggest you use the Notion 1-3-5 rule template which is completely available for free.

Apart from the notion template, you can use apps like Microsoft to-do list, todoist, and even Evernote to create a 1-3-5 rule to-do list. You can use them by adding the tasks with labels where labels are marked as Major, Medium, and Small.

This will help you with different tasks. And then you can simply use the search to find a major medium and small task and so the task.

Final Thought.

There are many to-do list techniques out there, use the one that suits you. It is best to settle for the method that you enjoy working with. Of all the to-do list strategies, which one is your favorite?

That’s it with the simple idea of the 1-3-5 rule. You can use this rule to manage your tasks and be more productive with them.


Hey, I am Chetan Poojari the founder of Geeksla. I work as a Product Manager and also an Online Content Creator. A travel and tech junkie who writes articles to simplify complex things.

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