Prioritizing: Ranking and Maintaining Intention
There are two parts to effective prioritizing. Ranking and maintaining an intention.
Ranking an Intention
Similar to distinguishing, prioritizing is a necessary skill for the busy professional. We can not possibly attend to every request, idea and thought that passes across our desk or through our busy mind in a given day. But our brain chemistry can make us believe otherwise.
Often mistaken for perfectionism, black and white thinking is the great disruptor, which allows us to paint a picture of ‘endless time’ on our time horizon, and allows expectations to balloon. This can result in over-commitments and spreading ourselves too thin. Global Creatives often resort to prioritizing by some interesting, but not so effective, means:
Latest and Loudest - whatever and/or whoever is screaming the most right now.
Walk by Cueing - basically doing whatever comes into our field of vision as we move about our space.
Emotional Organizing - doing what we feel like doing.
To prioritize, one must see a need for it. Begin with recognizing that time, energy and attention are finite (TEA). When committing to a priority, commit to a digestible chunk and trust that the time will be well spent. The 6 Cs are a good resource here.
Maintaining an Intention
With a ‘hyper’ attender it can be difficult to create and sustain the shades of gray necessary for effective prioritizing. Once an item is ranked according to importance and urgency it can be doubly difficult to maintain its position. The ‘grass is greener’ syndrome occurs in real-time for us. As we venture into one task, the attraction level of other tasks grows to get our attention.
It’s very difficult to work to completion when our brain chemistry and others are toying with our list of priorities - shifting them like leaves on a windy fall day. Narrowing your definition of completion can help here. Filling one bag of leaves is one bag closer to raking the yard, and it is a good strategy for those big tasks that won’t fit neatly into a given time frame.