Seems counter-intuitive, right?
Your instinct is probably that you don’t devote enough time, energy, and attention to your top priorities.
But what if you’re doing it wrong?
Maybe you should focus on your lesser priorities more. All those things that are sucking away resources from your top priorities.
Go Low to Get High
Low priority items take up resources.
They take up room on your list. They clutter your mind. You worry about them, even though they don’t matter as much as other things.
Even worse, you feel bad when you don’t get to them. Which can drain your overall energy.
Typically, we feel good when we accomplish things and bad when we don’t. That’s how people who worry about priorities and productivity are wired.
You may be one of those people.
If you feel the drain of not getting enough done, you might want to consider shifting to a new approach.
Rather than constantly shifting and managing your priorities, maybe you should get some off your list.
Not move them down or put them in a “parking lot” or shift them to another list.
Get rid of them. Forever.
Deciding up front that some things just aren’t worth the trouble can be a game-changer.
Because then you have more time, energy, and attention for the things that are truly important.
You can more easily focus on your top priorities. Which is really all that matters.
The ankle biters aren’t going to change your world. It’s the big stuff that’s going to do that. The hard stuff. The scary stuff.
Clearing the Decks
This is a “less is more” type of idea that I’ve always found value in, in many domains. And it came home clear in a book I read this week in regard to priorities. As well as other areas (affiliate link):
This is a fun read. It helps to revisit the idea that cleaning out the clutter helps to clarify focus on top priorities.
And to do this categorically helps most of all. Rather than wasting time, attention, and energy juggling things on the priority list all the time, make some big sweeping decisions that can clear up your priorities ongoing (or at least for a good long while).
Good food for thought.
My Book Review
The book is fun and the idea is profound. But really, it probably doesn’t need to be a book-length document. While it was fun to spend a couple hours swimming around in this concept, the point is well made in the opening pages.
The rest of the book is sort of wandering based on the whims of the author and the feedback from a survey she ran, seemingly in an effort to run up the page count for publishing.
Still, those extra pages were fun. Sarah Knight has a very entertaining and personal writing voice. Riddled with swear words. Which I don’t mind and quite enjoyed. The novelty held up in this work, as tone is an important part of her message.
The book’s scope is also much bigger than prioritization or productivity. It’s about a way to navigate life with much less emphasis on what other people think (without being a jerk about it).
But the lesson applies directly to priorities.
You and I can spend a lot of time and energy just managing priorities. Shuffling things around. Dealing with urgent and important and everything in between.
Or we can clear the decks a little. Maybe a lot.
Get things off the list. Work to minimize or eliminate complete categories wherever possible. Recognize that everything isn’t going to get done anyway, and that a lot of those things just don’t matter so much. We might as well get rid of them now, save ourselves lots of trouble, and free up resources for the important stuff.
Energy to Tackle What’s Left (Your Top Priorities)
Of course, clearing the decks means that your top priorities will be harder to avoid. You will be staring them directly in the eye. And they you will have to deal with them.
Which can be hard. But it’s better to put energy toward that than towards a constant re-jiggering of the unimportant.