Abolish Priorities!

Did you know that almost no one made the word ‘priority’ plural before the 1950s? Having multiple priorities probably made about as much sense as describing something as ‘very unique.’ Something is either unique or it isn’t. And something is either the priority or it isn’t. Makes sense to me!

Once you have two priorities, what is the priority? And once you have two, why can’t you have three? How about four? Where is the line?

We all know that if you have too many priorities, you have no priorities.

Franklin-Covey teaches that if you have 2-3 priorities, you will complete 2-3 tasks. If you have 4-10 priorities, you will complete 1-2 tasks. And if you have more than 10, you will complete none.

I’d take it a step farther. At any given moment, you have to have only one priority. If you have two, you will not be able to focus and your productivity will suffer.

Try eliminating ‘priorities’ from your vocabulary. If you speak only of your one priority, you will:

  • Be clear about what is most important right now, later today, tomorrow, as well as this month. “My priority right now is to finish this newsletter. My priority after that is to return phone calls. My priority for this quarter is to write a book.” Pretty clear, eh?
  • Avoid the cop-out involved with maintaining multiple ‘most important’ tasks.
  • Improve your ability to make tough decisions.
  • Make more realistic plans.
  • Set a good example for others who morph priority into a plural noun that has nothing to do with priority.
  • Be more productive.