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Is it Busy, Important or Urgent? The Art of Prioritization

Today probably more than ever, successful prioritization of your work can be the difference between achieving project goals and failing. Daily we are forced to manage between the three and sometimes it can be difficult discerning between the three. So, how can we learn to become better at prioritization and differentiate between busy, important and urgent?

I’d like to start off by mentioning an excellent video by Scott Belsky that briefly talks about how Piers Fawkes refuses to open his email for the first three hours he’s at the office. This allows him the time to research before being sucked into all daily matters.

While we may not be able to spend several hours at work away from email, the blog, The 99%, presents some best practices that may help:

  1. When Prioritizing, Recognize that Compromise Is A Necessity
    Try to narrow down a daily to do list to five things. This exercise in and of itself is a good way for you to reflect on the most important tasks that need to be accomplished. However, what’s more powerful, is now you will be in a position to recognize what’s NOT on this list. This way when “urgent” matters come up, items you are working on that didn’t make the list should be dropped. After a while, you’ll be surprised to see how much energy is spent on stuff that’s off-list.
  2.  Compartmentalize urgent matters as soon as they arise
    As humans, we tend to dwell on problems and conflicts. Dwelling takes time and effort away from us attempting to resolve those urgent items and returning to the important stuff. When it comes to urgency, “strive for a bias-to-action”.
  3.  Don’t Load Up on Urgent Items
    Fight the urge to handle urgent items on your own. You might think that this is a quick fix and can be done faster by yourself. Challenge yourself to delegate urgent items to others and remember that urgent does not mean complex.
  4. Take Advantage of “windows of non-stimulation
    Like Pierce Fawkes, when you get those windows of non-stimulation size them. Remember that late nights and early morning are great opportunities to make progress on important items with little risk of urgent matters interrupting.

Your Turn
Have any tips on how to prioritize, we’d love to hear them.

Have you tried any of these tips? How have they worked for you?

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