Did you know that the word “Prioritize” was first used in 1972 as part of presidential election? Seriously, before the 70′s people primarily talked about what “priorities” were more than how they would rank order priorities by degree of importance. All priorities are important otherwise they wouldn’t be priorities. : )
Today, many people use the word prioritize to mean choosing what order to do things in based on how important they are. The trouble with that is this – Sequencing the order in which you do things is not best decided based on importance, it’s much for effective overall to get things done based on relevant timing and on the short and long term impact of doing them.
For example, sleeping and eating are arguably the most important things we do in life, yet they would rarely make it on to a ranked list as the most important things you do each day. If we ceased to do them, we would literally DIE. Not getting enough sleep is like taking a drug that makes harder for you to do everything you need to do in life, and yet, sleep is the thing that people most often sacrifice in to “get more done” or ” be more productive.”
In the world of agile, the art of sequencing the order in which we do things is about choosing the best times, and the best contexts for doing things to do them not in trying to decide which one is more important. And by the way, choosing the order and importance does nothing to help you figure how to make them easier to do or integrate them other needs you have. So don’t feel bad if the word prioritizing mystifies you.
It’s because you intuitively know that ranking activities by importance is often a waste of time – after all, importance is is relative to the context you find yourself in – importance changes from moment to moment as needs fluctuate. So it only makes sense that our time spent “ranking” could be spent more usefully.
For people who seek greater effectiveness, I propose that the word Agilize may be far more useful to you in getting things done and positively impacting your overall productivity.
What is Agilizing?
Agilizing is shorthand for a different way of thinking about strategizing your life and how you want to use your time. Agilizing to me means taking time to be mindful of my present context and to:
- Notice what’s happening in my body, mind, emotions and in the context around me
- Identify the needs
- Negotiate to resolve or integrate any conflicting needs based on short AND long term impact (like wanting to stay up and keep working but needing to sleep)
- Figure out the ingredients needed to act on the higher impact needs
- Make it simpler and easier to choose to meet the higher impact needs (like sleep)
- Make it easier to transition, get started, or finish
- Figure out how to use fewer resources to make the better decision
- Figure out which standards matter most (fast, inexpensive or quality) and adjust the relevant standards or processes as needed to meet all the important needs without doing harm
Agilizing is the process of thoughtfully and smartly designing our lives, homes, productivity systems, relationships, financial systems, self-care and work processes to meet the needs most critical to our wellbeing and to FIT our unique circumstances, resources and constraints.
Think about it…
1) When it ALL seems important – What really matters most is the agile art of juggling priorities, and making it easier to be ready to act on our priorities – as needed – when they become the most important right now (e.g., you are hungry now) NOT necessarily of figuring out the ideal sequence or deciding whether the priority is an A, B, or C, priority.
2) Most of us ‘neurodiverse” want to make plans, but we also have an aversion to plans because we either feel too boxed in, or we know they will change anyway, so what’s the point? Same with goals, commitments, etc. Learning to “agilize” our commitments, plans, goals, systems, and even attachments to things is both liberating AND life-changing. When we plan and set goals in a minimalistic and flexible way, we work with our natural way of thinking, see their useful value more clearly and reduce our aversion to them.
Human being were designed to be agile – adaptive and need-responsive – not to function like machines getting things done in a preset order. We have the gift of improvisation for a reason. Agilizing is about cultivating that gift into an art form and using it to DESIGN our lives to evolve with us as our needs, values, projects, bodies, relationships or other life circumstances change.
So what do you think? Which do you think will help you get more accomplished in the bigger picture?
Agilizing or Prioritizing?
Want to learn more about Agile Time Management?
RELATED ARTICLES ON THIS BLOG
- 5 Steps to Cultivating the Power of Habit – How to Transform Self-Limiting Thought Habits with Agile Thinking Habits
- Chronic Procrastination and Resistance: The Truth about How we Learn to Procrastinate.