There are different ways to consider if something is a priority or NOT, it really depends on your perspective and goal. When trying to decide what is a priority, you’ll have to be very careful not to label everything as a priority. In other words, don’t cry “wolf” on everything and expect someone to come running. Especially yourself.
Instead, answer these 3 questions to help you decide what may be a high priority or not:
1. Is it a priority because it’s been on my to-do list for a long time? If it’s still on your to-do list, then it is probably important to you. To figure out if it is a true priority you could create a “not to-do” list. What items can you completely forget about and not do…EVER? What will be the consequences if you don’t do these things?
For example: Change the font color on website. Consequence: Probably not much more than irritation to you, unless you are a web designer whose customer requested the change. Hopefully that hasn’t been sitting on your to-do list for a long time! Then the consequence may be that your customer doesn’t refer you to a colleague.
2. Is it a priority because I am obligated to another person to complete this task by a deadline? If you answered yes, then IT IS a priority. As a matter of fact, I recommend that you get it done in a very timely manner. If you are ever behind, then at least send the person a message. It’s just customer or colleague courtesy to give them an update.
3. How big will the to-do impact my business? This can be a tough one to answer and it can be asked from 2 different perspectives. One perspective is the positive impact…what will you gain if you do it? The other perspective is the negative impact…what will you lose if you don’t do it? Attaching a monetary amount to your gains and losses can help you determine the true cost of your to-do. If the impact of your decision to complete the task has huge monetary rewards or huge losses, then rank the to-do as a priority.
Deadlines, obligations to others, and gains or losses help determine how to prioritize your to-do items. Schedule times in your calendar to focus on these tasks. And stick to it!
Next week, I’ll share tips on how you can stay focused on longer-term priority projects.
If you found this article helpful, then please share it with your own colleagues who may enjoy using these decision-making questions.