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 clarifying what there “priorities” were. It wasn’t until a wave of trendy time management books were published in the 70’s that the word became popular.
Prioritizing means to sequence things in order of importance. The trouble with over-using the word prioritizing is that people have forgotten that prioritizing is only ONE way to sequence things on your TO DO list. And often, prioritizing is NOT the best way to organize your To Do List!
All priorities are important otherwise they wouldn’t be priorities.
Trying to prioritize tasks requires deciding which priority is more important than another.
MANY MANY people get stuck in procrastination because they have so much trouble deciding whether one thing is more important than another and RIGHTLY SO!
Many priorities are of equal importance, but the fact is you STILL have to sequence and decide what to do in any given moment. : )
Other strategies to order your To Do list include putting them in the order of
- your readiness to do them with ease
- when they are do
- impact on your emotional and energy state
- how quickly you can do them
- how much cognitive load they require
- due date
- impact on other’s ability to proceed with their work (interdependencies)
And sometimes, depending on your current emotional and physical state, it’s a GREAT idea NOT to attempt to do anything “important.”
When you are super tired, that is NOT the time to do important tasks or even try to make important decisions.
For example, sleeping and eating are arguably the most important things we do in life, yet they would rarely make it onto a prioritized list and ranked as the most important things you do each day. If we ceased to sleep or eat, we would literally DIE. Not getting enough sleep is arguably worse than taking a drug designed to interfere with your ability to get things done. Insufficient sleep makes it harder for you to do everything you need to do in life, and yet, sleep is the often the first thing that people sacrifice in order to “get more done” or ” be more productive.” Crazy right?
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.
Sadly, prioritizing or doing things in order of importance contributes NOTHING to help you figure how to make them easier to do or integrate them other needs you have so that you can work smarter and meet multiple priority needs AT THE SAME TIME. So don’t feel bad if the word prioritizing mystifies you – it’s one of the most over hyped words in the English language.
If you struggle with prioritizing, it’s because you intuitively know that ranking activities by importance is often a waste of time – after all, importance is relative to the context you find yourself in – and therefore, importance changes from moment to moment as needs fluctuate.
So it only makes sense that time spent “ranking in order of importance” could be used much productively.
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 word do you think might help you get more accomplished? Agilizing or Prioritizing?
RELATED ARTICLES ON THIS BLOG
- Organize Your Time: Agile Time Management™ – FREE VIDEO
- Agile Time Management Strategies – FREE PDF
- 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.