Too Many Top Priorities? Try This…

Priorities and chunking
Sort your priorities by chunking…

Setting priorities is a powerful way to organize yourself. It’s a time skill that helps you organize and order your daily activities. And yet, it isn’t always simple.

Here’s a recent question from a reader that illustrates a common challenge that people face when prioritizing. See if it resonates for you…

Carol of Trenton, New Jersey writes:

Dear Paula,

I’ve always prioritized my tasks when I create my to-do list. But my problem is that I often see every task as a high priority. Could you explain what a low priority task looks like?



Dear Carol,

What a great question! One of the most difficult aspects of setting priorities is learning to weight them realistically — both according to their difficulty and to their actual importance.

So, try this…

When prioritizing, aim to mark at least 50% of your tasks as medium or low priorities.

  • A medium or low priority task can be deferred without a negative impact on anything if it doesn’t get completed.
  • And it’s a task that can be moved to another day without any adverse consequences.

Keep in mind, when setting priorities, that being flexible and reality-based is key.  This isn’t about procrastinating.

Instead, it’s recognizing the fact that situations change every day. You may, quite often, have a legitimate reason to re-order your priorities.  Tasks that looked very important on Sunday night, may look different by Monday afternoon after you’ve gathered more information or the context has evolved.

Limit what you call your top priorities.

In thinking about your top priorities, be rigorous about what belongs in that slot.  Stephen Covey suggests keeping two words in mind while setting priorities. One is ‘urgent’ and the other is ‘important’. The best guide for determining which task is the highest priority is to select the task on your to-do list that is both urgent and important. Some tasks may be one or the other, but only the one that is both belongs at the top.

And then there’s the bottom…

Likewise, you may find it helpful to establish a “bottom” priority.  There might even be a small collection of tasks that fit this bill. 

They would typically be things that can be deferred without dire consequence, but that it would be nice to accomplish.  Putting vacation photos into an album is something that springs to mind.  Or maybe reorganizing a seldom-used closet.

Chunking tasks and priorities…

Breaking your tasks up into smaller pieces (“chunking” them) also helps.  Those chunks may have different priority levels for you. And even if you don’t have enough time to complete a task, you can use the time available to get it started.  Chunks that may be lower-level priorities still help move a higher priority task along.

Review and fine-tune…

It’s helpful to choose a time to review your next day’s to-do list and the priorities you’ve established. Look at both the task and the priority you’ve assigned it.  This allows you to flex and adjust your priorities as you plan.  You might even take a minute or two and visualize each task. This mental rehearsal enables you to identify the number of steps required to complete a task and keeps your stress level down.

I hope that some of these ideas resonate for you, Carol. And I’d love to hear how your prioritizing evolves over time.



This helps, too…

Do you ever feel like life is coming at you too fast and you’re getting lost in the shuffle?

Are you feeling at sea and rudderless? Unclear about what your priorities even are?

Well, a time tool what I want to tell you about today is my E-Guide titled “Why Can’t I find My Direction?” 17 Journaling Prompts to Create Your Ideal Life.

This E-Guide gets right down to business as it walks you through 17 journaling prompts aimed at helping you come to a deeper understanding of

  • Who you are,
  • What you value,
  • What makes you tick and
  • How you relate to your time choices.

Understanding any ONE of these things more fully is a great gift to give yourself. So I invite you follow your heart as you clarify your priorities and find your direction with “Why Can’t I find My Direction?” 17 Journaling Prompts to Create Your Ideal Life.

Click the link below to discover more about what’s possible for you.

Let’s explore time together …

Speak Your Mind