Bits of Life Missed Worth Exploring

Our Difficulty With Thinking In Terms of Priority


Priority is a label we assign to something on our to-do list (or something we would like to do) giving us some ranking of either importance or urgency. We hear it often when working in groups or when we research how to best organize ourselves to be more productive.

The common story around figuring out priorities is that not everything in front of us is important or urgent. Urgency confuses us. Responsibilities feel like we have no voice in when we complete them. Family commitments further complicate our stressful calendars.

Stepping back to our youth, we were never exposed to the concept of priority. Having homework across many subjects, it was up to us to figure out in what order or sequence we should complete them. What little ranking there was at the time, first centered around enjoyment (think after-school sports).

Priority itself is multi-dimensional. We need to ask ourselves a second question when thinking about priority. “In terms of what?” Impact, deadline, desirability, achievability, effort, degree of difficulty, or time horizon for completion are just some of the possible measures we can impose to rank a list of things to do.

This all does not seem natural or easy. Our ranking of priority will change depending on how we answer “in terms of what”. This is where our difficulty with assigning priority exists. There are no right answers or clear paths to figure out what is important for us to do first. And urgency overpowers our ability to think clearly as to what logically makes the most sense for us to do next.

What makes this process even more difficult is it goes against our default ranking of easiest and most enjoyable. How many times do we say “someday” for something and then never get it done? Where something might change your life, improve your impact, or help you make progress on what you aspire to but seem to never be able to achieve?

Choosing to place a high priority on doing something that forces us to abandon our habits and routines of the day is very, very difficult. It feels foreign to us and not easy. Most times, what should have a high priority to grab our attention and energy first, is usually harder to do. We tend to put these things off for another day. Only hurting ourselves in the end.

The good news is once we understand priority better in terms of its structure, we can begin to experiment with answering the question “in terms of what” to find a value that aligns with who we are together with our responsibilities as well as our dreams. Then using this answer repeatedly to continually set our priorities will slowly begin to feel natural for us to do.

Leading us to more movement in our lives with more frequent smiles when seeing how much we have accomplished that is important to us. While saying “someday” less and less as the days go by.

Bits of Life Missed Worth Exploring


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