Is your reading this blog post a priority? If not, what are your priorities and how did you define them?  Another good question would be “how often do they change?”

In my twisted (yet socially functional) mind a person can only have one priority – whatever they should be doing right now.

Who cares what your top, middle, second-to-middle, almost last and absolutely, unconditionally bottom of the list priorities are? I only care about my number one priority and that is the one thing I should be doing right here, right now.  The question is, how do I know what that is?

Well, it starts with my to-do lists. When at work I refer to my “@work” list.  In addition to my weekly reviews, I review this list each morning and write 3-4 items that I would like to get done that day (in addition to any calendar actions which have to get done.) Then throughout my day I take a look at my list and ask the following (I’m in the “Doing” stage of the 5 Stages of Mastering Workflow for those GTDers who are following along):

  • Context – where am I and what is available: Computer? Reference material? Cell phone? Banana? Cooking pan?
  • Time – how much time do I have: 5 minutes? 10 minutes? 2 hours?
  • Energy – how much energy do I have: Do I have enough to call that plumber who charged me an outrageous $500 to unclog my drain from when my kids threw sticks into it?
  • Priority – then, based on the answers to the above and filtering what’s next on my list I determine what is most important – and I do it!

Kelly Forrister over at Simply GTD with Kelly takes this stance on priorities:

Bottom line, you are the one deciding whether or not to spend time with your kids or read that report on the weekend. Or, whether you should call the client or call your dentist. The more complete the inventory of your choices, and how that maps to what’s important to you personally and professionally, the easier and faster that decision will be.

Update 3Mar09: Here’s a link to a GTDTimes post about conflicting priorities.

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