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29 May

Beware of the temptation to prioritize

Datum: 2013-05-29 09:55

As we reach a cer­tain lev­el of struc­ture in our work and we use a to-do-list in some form in order to remem­ber what we have to do and to eas­i­ly obtain an overview of all the tasks, there is a trap we need to beware of.

When we are mak­ing note of a new task in our dig­i­tal to-do-list-tool, it is tempt­ing to tag it as hav­ing a high” (or 1”) pri­or­i­ty if the task is important. 

This is where we need to be careful. 

High today – low tomorrow

You see, the tasks of greater impor­tance and high pri­or­i­ty tends to vary over time. What might have a high pri­or­i­ty today can have a rel­a­tive­ly low­er pri­or­i­ty tomor­row if new, more urgent and impor­tant tasks have been added to the list.

The con­se­quence of set­ting the pri­or­i­ty too soon is that you end up with a list arranged by pri­or­i­ty, but per­haps not accu­rate­ly pri­or­i­tized. Then you will have to see past the pri­or pri­or­i­ties you set (mean­ing that you undo the pri­or­i­ties you set) or spend time chang­ing pri­or­i­ties to what is more accu­rate today. If you make changes accord­ing to how today’s pri­or­i­ties appears and then do not com­plete all the tasks, then the list will prob­a­bly not be arranged accord­ing to the right pri­or­i­ties tomor­row and you will have to spend more time adjust­ing it. 

Don’t do this

Hence, do not give a task high pri­or­i­ty as you add it to the to-do-list, but rather leave it as a nor­mal­ly pri­or­i­tized” task. 

Not until you choose what tasks you real­ly need to com­plete today should you give a task a high pri­or­i­ty”. Count on that you will have to repri­or­i­tize as the day pro­gress­es since new things, sit­u­a­tions and tasks most like­ly will appear which will rearrange your sched­ule and change your plans. 

There­fore, do not set tasks as pri­or­i­tized except for when you are set­ting your pri­or­i­ties for the next lit­tle while to come and wish to sort today’s tasks accord­ing to impor­tance and there­by make it eas­i­er to work with the list. 

What is your way?

How do you quick­ly and eas­i­ly deter­mine which tasks have a high­er pri­or­i­ty than oth­ers? How do you repri­or­i­tize eas­i­ly and effi­cient­ly? Feel free to leave a com­ment and share your thoughts.