Merlin Mann writes:
"I come at this from the angle of a GTD fan, in the sense that I try (try, mind you) to see priority as one of several factors that govern where my time can and should go. But, it’s no secret that even the most diehard GTD fan struggles with how to execute a busy day during which this and this and this and, oh crap, that all need to be done as soon as possible. How do you manage it all?
Well, one way is to apply some of the many affordances that various productivity tools offer: priority stuff is big, and it’s red, and it’s bold, it’s at the very top of the list, and it’s stuck on a sticky note in the middle of the monitor; anything to make sure we don’t lose our most important work in the lights.
So my question to you guys: what does “priority” really mean to you in practice (not theory)?
Does it represent the highest value item in your world — that for which you will reject other work? Is it the thing that’s currently causing the most stress and anxiety? Or is it the thing that you’re the most behind on and are therefore the most horribly embarrassed about? What makes you set an item’s priority to the “high” setting, and then how does that help it to get done faster? Does priority planning ever fail you?" [43 Folders]
This is the hardest thing about my work -- prioritizing (and completing) my many projects and/or areas of responsibility, coupled with "customer service" requests in the form of drop-ins, phone calls, and emails. Knowing when it is acceptable to say, "What's your time frame on that -- I am committed to finishing up a report this afternoon." To answer Merlin's questions: Priority, to me, in practice, means either that I have a solid deadline for someone higher up in the food chain than me, or that something is making me feel so stressed out that I just want it done and gone. Unfortunately, that last bit means that sometimes I do something that might be construed by others as not as important as other things waiting to be done. If something really has to be done first thing, I'll put whatever paperwork is associated with it right between my monitor and my keyboard. Sometimes I'll put a neon Super Sticky Post-it(r) note right on the monitor to remind me of the top priority. Also, at the first of the month, I have started creating new wallpaper which includes a small calendar of the month, a list of my meetings, and a list of the priorities for the month. I make it attractive, so I don't mind seeing it every day, and use a nice large font (easy on the eyes).