Assessing Priorities

I recently assessed everything I had going on, and the first place I decided to look was the aspect of my life that would have the greatest impact on my projects and workflow: my priorities. By reassessing priorities first, the rest of the assessment becomes more aligned not only with where I am now…but with where I want to go.

I took a look at all of the areas of my life:

  • Personal
  • Family
  • Professional

Before I only had the Personal and Professional categories, but I noticed that there was lot of priorities in there that were getting lost in the shuffle. If you’ve got a family, then I suggest you also separate the personal aspect of your life from the family aspect because as much as they can intersect, they also have some clear differences. The separation of the two (by creating the Family area) allows me to be very clear with both areas, which was somewhat muddled before I decided to split the two of them up.

Once I started to break down my priorities in each area, I was able to see where certain ones impeded others. This often was the case whenever I examined professional priorities with ones in the other two categories. The key to assessing priorities is to make sure you look across all areas of your life at once. You can see where the overlapping takes place, where the outdated ones are, and where the categorization of priorities is misaligned. I’d placed some professional priorities in the personal area — mainly because they somehow seemed more part of who I am than what I do.

Using paper when doing this exercise was a big plus for me.1 Here’s how I used paper to make the assessment happen:

  1. I captured all of my priorities under areas in list form.
  2. Then I used the idea of The Crucial Cube for each area, placing the values of each area in the center and using the remaining quadrants in a fashion similar to The Eisenhower Matrix. (The Crucial Cube Exercise is included in The Productivityist Workbook.)
  3. After evaluating the results for each “cube”, I rewrote the initial list and then transferred it into Evernote as a note. (I put the list in my Evernote Smart Notebook for easy transfer — and it also means I have my priorities recorded in the written notebook for easy access.)

These priorities won’t go into my task manager. Instead, they’ll inform my task manager when it comes to projects and tasks. By taking the time to assess my priorities once again, I’ve placed myself in a better state of mind going forward. That can only help me be more efficient and effective in what I really want to do — and what I value doing as well.

Next up: Assessing Projects

Photo]2 credit: zxyt via SXC.HU

1 Here’s a post I’d written on The Big Paper Exercise, another exercise I use frequently.