The Lack of Prioritization

John Maeda once said “People who can focus, get things done. People who can prioritize, get the right things done”. Prioritization is the activity that arranges items or activities in order of importance relative to each other. Figuring out how you’re going to prioritize your commitments, deadlines, projects, work — everything — can be a great step towards increasing your effectiveness and your efficiency. When we’re busy and stressed, we often default to working on whatever has the most imminent deadline, even if it’s not particularly important. The solution is to step back and work on tasks that are important but not urgent or won’t help you.

Now when I think about prioritizing I see 3 things important to take into consideration:

People Things Goals

Raluca Rusu Prioritization Factors

Why this 3 and why in this order?

People

This is the hardest thing to change because you are human and you don’t want to be an asshole. Or shorter you don’t know how to say NO to people you don’t want to help or to people you don’t want to hurt. Or you may have the Messiah complex so you just feel like you need to help everyone, and in that case, I can’t help you because of my poor medical expertise, all I can do is tell you to stop.

Prioritizing others will never get you where you want because you don’t put yourself first, just SAY NO or come with a great excuse and work your way out of it. It’s better to do what you want and fill your time with things that help you grow, not stand still or lose time. David Brooks once said: “Only the masters of renunciation leave an imprint, only those who can say a hundred Nos for the sake of an overwhelming Yes.” But let’s not be hypocrites - if someone you love is in trouble or in sickness and need you you’re dumb if you won’t be there for them.

And here comes the second thing you should know how to prioritize:

Things

Things mean situations, problems, ideas, or wishes. Gladly ask procrastination to fuck off and leave you alone. In my opinion, you shouldn’t think for more than 2 full hours about a thing - it just doesn’t make sense. Think about it. In 120 minutes you can literally create a room full of pros and cons, post-it notes, ideas, or whatever detectives have to do to find a lead, to simply weigh everything to make the right decision, most of the time 15 minutes will do just fine. So cut off procrastination and think smart and efficient in less time, you’ll realize that decisions are way easier to take. Remove distractions from your workspace to help avoid procrastinating. Procrastination is a big time suck, so do what you can to prevent it.

Also, cut off things like spending most of your time having fun. The social construct of fun: partying, eating, drinking, dancing, or hooking up with people are just things everyone does and are considered “fun” because people feel free doing them. It’s invented by people that probably hate their job or life and find these habits as interesting and distracting from their miserable life. Having fun won’t always involve people, drinking, dancing, or eating, it can but it is not a rule. I am not saying don’t go partying or don’t drink or whatever, I am saying don’t overdo it and don’t think they make you happy, because most of them are momentarily and won’t last for long, you’ll just realize that later and I’m saving you from the disappointment.

In order to prioritize Things I recommend this approach:

The ABC Method, originally developed by Alan Lakein, consists of assigning a priority status of “A, ”B”, or “C” to each of the items on your to-do list or task list.

“A” Status Items – “Must Do”: high priority items very important items critical items immediate or very-near deadlines and/or a high level of importance otherwise (high stakes)
“B” Status Items – “Should Do”: medium priority items can be quite important over time not as critical as “A” items but still important to spend time engaging in completing/working on them.
“C” Status Items – “Nice to Do”: low priority items at this time few negative consequences if left undone at this moment (low stakes). To use this approach, you would create your to-do list and then go through and make these marks beside each.

To make it even easier to see, you could color-code. If you don’t like letters, create a series of symbols that stand-in for “A,” “B,” and “C.”

Now we got to the last reason why you lack prioritizing:

Goals

If you don’t know what you want to do or want to achieve at least one year from now, that’s probably because you haven’t mastered the 2 reasons I talked about before People and Things, don’t worry it doesn’t take long for you to do that, you just have to start. Once you put yourself first before People and Things, you’ll understand yourself better, and you’ll realize who you are and what you want to do. Cut off some toxic people, stop your usual and comfortable habits, learn more and you’ll finally meet who you are and what you want to do with your fine self. Don’t just let life pass you by. Put yourself in the driver’s seat when it comes to your time. I remind myself frequently that ultimately, I’m the one responsible for how my time and efforts are spent. Still, I get off track at times and have to deal with surprises that pop up. But I know that by practicing effective work strategies on a consistent basis, I can focus on the largest gains and stay proactive in managing my work.

Set long-term goals that clearly demonstrate what you hope to accomplish in your career and personal life. You can also set short-term goals that you’d like to accomplish each month that help propels you toward your long-term goals. Once you have your goals written down, keep them close at hand so you can easily refer to them. Revisit and revise your long-term goals whenever you need to. If you have a series of large goals you’re trying to accomplish, you can easily become overwhelmed and unsure of how to start working toward them. To make your goals seem more attainable, it can help to break them down into smaller steps with specific tasks. That way, you’ll know exactly what you need to do to work toward each goal. Each of the goals you set should be measurable, so you can track your progress toward attaining them. Record the actions you’re taking to achieve your goal on a regular basis and measure your progress. For example, if one of your goals is to earn $50,000 for the year, you can set milestones throughout the year and regularly measure your progress toward your ultimate revenue goal.

You, life, and you living life is just like you, a horse and you riding the horse. You ride the horse and hope the ride never ends, but if it does you want it to be somewhere familiar, somewhere you love and you’d like to stay at. Now for the horse ride, you can feel like you trust it and you know where it’ll take you, but you can’t talk to horses lol so you don’t know when it’ll want to go to a river and drink water or to sleep for 12 days so you just hope it won’t give you many surprises or scares and the road will be smooth. You never know, you can just hope. And then again you can make your ride safer. Let’s say you take the horse a saddle, so you can control it better. That’s what happens in life when you want to be successful not because money will bring you happiness, but safety and opportunities. Now again even with the saddle, you can’t know for sure if the road it’s going to be perfect, but you trust yourself and the horse more and differently. If you are good with your horse probably it will be good with you too. If on your way you help people that are down their horse to get back up on their horse - that’s good, but you don’t want to take everyone on your horse and ride with them because they’re afraid to ride. This will only end in you killing your horse because of exhaustion, and here we’re against animal cruelty.

You can choose to blame your circumstances on fate or bad luck or bad choices. Or you can fight back and keep riding. Things aren’t always going to be fair or easy in the real world. That’s just the way it is. But for the most part, you get what you give. The rest of your life is being shaped right now. With the dreams you chase and the choices you make. The rest of your life is a long time. And the rest of your life starts right now.

That’s it for now, until next time

Yours truly,
Raluca