If You Have Too Many Priorities, You Might As Well Not Have Any

My Thoughts

I heard an executive say this the other day and it really resonated with me because I am always thinking about my long to-do list and how every single item seems important to me. I know I am not the only person because everyone else I know has a million other “important” things going on in their lives as well.

We’ve heard many times about the essential ability to prioritize tasks and duties, especially when it comes to our careers. Many of us say we’re good at it, but are we really? Isn’t prioritization quite subjective as with almost anything?

For example, everyone says that they prioritize their families and health, but we see so many of these people working overtime, neglecting their loved ones, and decaying in their offices. So are they really prioritizing their families and health? Does prioritization mean actually getting it done or merely ranking a task’s importance (even if it means not actually following it)?

It gets even more complicated because one person’s priority doesn’t necessarily align with another’s… and I think that is where lack of cohesion and execution occurs in the work setting. Because everyone has different roles to play, they have different priorities to accomplish, and that simply means that things never get done as effectively or as timely as people desire.

My Good Case Practices

I learned about the Eisenhower Matrix, which is a simple but useful tool that I use to boost my prioritization skills. This proved extremely helpful when I was given a million different tasks and I didn’t know where to start.

I suggest having this chart up on your wall where you can put stickies under each category every time a new task is given to you. After you put it up, you should add it to your calendar. I recommend always giving yourself an earlier (1-2 week) deadline than the real one to motivate yourself to complete it quicker. This also helps as buffer time when urgent incidents pop up and you need to delay some tasks.

To address the issue of misalignment of priorities, I would ask the person requesting something which quadrant they would rank the task in to get a better idea of how important and urgent the task actually is because I may be missing something.

Your Takeaways

  1. Create a To-Do list
  2. Plot each item on the Eisenhower Matrix
  3. Add early reminders to your calendar