3 More Lessons I’ve Learned About Prioritization
During my quest for a more productive life, I seem to stumble upon the concept of prioritization again and again, as the cornerstone on which real long-lasting productivity is built.
One of the reasons I stumble upon it, again and again, is because I have yet to internalize the concept completely.
I think one of the issues I and others like me tend to miss is that if we have too many priorities, then we have no priorities at all.
This brings me to the first lesson:
Lesson #1 — Have Only ONE Priority A Day
If you have more than one priority, it means you’re not really prioritizing. This means you’re going to try and multitask to get all of your “high priority” tasks completed for the day, which tends to result in none of them being completed successfully.
However, if you decide on only one thing you want to accomplish today, and you give it your all, there is a high likelihood of you succeeding. Not only that, you’re most likely to have spare time to tackle the rest of your tasks.
One other happy side effect of this approach is that by improving your prioritization skills, you’ll end up with fewer tasks overall. And that’s a good thing since fewer tasks mean less psychological load, which tends to lend itself to better productivity and improved wellbeing.
Lesson #2 — Remove All Distractions
When you get down to business and start working on your most important task of the day, your ONE priority, you should remove all distractions.
This is essential in order to actually make progress. If you’re constantly bothered by social media apps, or even work-related apps (Slack, Gmail, and the like), you’re destroying your focus. This might seem impossible to some, as we tend to feel that we need to “be available”. However, in most cases, the world will be able to make do without you, at least for 1–2 hours a day. And that’s great because if you’re truly focused, it’s more than enough time to make progress on your highest priority.
Once you get that out of the way, you can reopen your communication channels, knowing that you’ve already tackled the most important thing, you’ve already won the day.
Okay then, so you’ve got this priority thing taken care of, but does that mean you’re going to spend your time only on “high priority” tasks and never get to smaller tasks which are also important but a little less so? We’ve got a solution for that too!
Lesson #3— Use “Dead Time” Windows Wisely
Let’s assume you just came off of a meeting, you have 30 minutes until your next meeting starts, and for some reason, you haven’t tackled your highest priority task yet. Well, first of all, you should tackle your most important task of the day first thing in the morning. However, if you didn’t do it by then, and it’s a task that requires a great deal of focused work, 30 minutes won’t cut it. That’s exactly when you should fit in your smaller tasks, between the cracks. That way, you get more things done, but not at the cost of your highest priority task.
I found these lessons extremely beneficial, I hope they will serve you well on your own quest to better productivity and wellbeing!