Lessons in prioritisation


If you have gone through a ‘transformational change’ program at work, I am willing to bet you have been told that a key success factor of the change is learning how to prioritise your work.

While I know this is true, I want to know who is asking you to prioritise YOUR WORK?

NO…. Not how best to manage email, meetings and getting through your tasks. I mean YOUR WORK, the work you do for you.

Yes there is value in the ‘Eisenhower Matrix’, one of those prioritisation strategies you learn when going through transformational change.

Basically you sort your work into:

  • Important and urgent = Do this right now
  • Important and not urgent = Schedule it in to do
  • Not important and urgent = Delegate it
  • Not important and not urgent = Dont do it

The idea is you place your tasks, your emails or whatever type of activity you do into one of these categories and you work through everything in order or until a new important and urgent thing comes up.

But wait. 

That is still just about how you can be more productive at your work, what about YOUR WORK?

In 2010 I learnt an amazing prioritising technique while on a 10 day ‘Vipassana’ meditation retreat in the Blue Mountains. While observing noble silence we would meditate from 4:30 am to 10:00 pm (with food breaks and a little bit of personal time) each day. At the end we got the chance to talk with other participants. I got the chance to ask a CEO of 4 companies what his strategy was for getting things done?

He said:

“There is no strategy, you just get shit done. At the end of each day I write down what has to be done tomorrow. The next morning I lock myself in my office and do it. I tell everyone that they cannot bother me until after 10:00 or until the list is done.”

So his ‘not strategy’ was pretty great, to simply:

  • write a list at the end of the day, and
  • do everything on the list the next day.

But wait. 

That is still just about how you can be more productive at your work, what about YOUR WORK?

The work that only we can do for ourselves, the work that shapes how we show up each day?

The thing you do to get past old jokes about Monday’s being the worst day of the week and Wednesday being hump day.

Tony Robbins, a self mastery guru, teaches the importance of starting your day well. His morning’s includes (but not limited to) being grateful and resightinhg positive affirmations.

Tim Ferris, author of the 4 Hour Work week, is an avid journaler. He said this about morning journaling:

“I don’t journal to “be productive.” I don’t do it to find great ideas, or to put down prose I can later publish. The pages aren’t intended for anyone but me. Morning pages are, as author Julia Cameron puts it, “spiritual windshield wipers.” It’s the most cost-effective therapy I’ve ever found. To quote her further…: ‘Once we get those muddy, maddening, confusing thoughts [nebulous worries, jitters, and preoccupations] on the page, we face our day with clearer eyes.’”

Morning journaling is a great example of how you could start YOUR WORK at the beginning of the day. It is not a new idea. It’s not a new trend that positive psychology has recently proven to be valuable. It was the stoics.

Marcus Aurelius (the emperor of Rome 161-180) would journal in the morning. He would focus on what was coming up, how he wanted to show up for the day and identify all the ways he would live with virtue.

So if you think making time to do YOUR WORK is important, start a morning journal.

As a guide, here are the types of questions a stoic would ask themselves in the morning:

  • What would I like to work on today (which virtue, behavior or problem)?
  • In my journey towards freedom from passion (not how we see it today, more like distress, fear, worry, obsessiveness) what am I missing?
  • In my journey towards tranquility I am missing (the ability to experience calm, regardless of what is happening)?
  • In my journey towards freedom from attachment I must?
  • What should I do to show up as a rational being today (focused on reason and virtue)?
  • What will I do to be friendly?
  • What will I do to be social?
  • What will I do to be caring?

Taking a page out of the positive psychology space, you could also ask:

  • What am I grateful for?
  • Today will be great because?
  • A positive affirmation for my day is?
  • An inspiring quote for my day is?

Check out the original article here: https://theshaker.com.au/briefing/few-lessons-priotitisation

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: