Prioritization: the Power Tool of Skills

Prioritization: the Power Tool of Skills

Apr 16, 2019

Author: Katy Young; Senior Manager, Client Success & Consulting; Verity, A HealthStream Company


After a 30-minute commute in bumper to bumper traffic due a five-minute delay in the car drop off line, the last thing on my mind is an organized method to identify the most valuable use of my time once I arrive at my desk. My mind wanders to the shade of lipstick I grabbed and how it really is too dark for this time of year. Of course, once I do arrive at my desk there are 4 voicemails, 10 Instant Messages, and 3 post it notes that duplicate the voicemails. There is no point to even open e-mail yet, right? Feeling overwhelmed?


This is a common story for individuals in all professions and seasons. The most carefully planned days and weeks can quickly become uprooted by last minute requests that are disguised as “urgent” or “critical”. Insert prioritization with a twist. We have heard from many members of our community in recent years talking about planning, strategy, change, and prioritization. So why push prioritization again?


Prioritization is a POWER SKILL and it is one that you can learn and APPLY, quickly! While there are many self-help books out there detailing a vetted process, ain’t nobody got time for that! It really comes down to a mini-planning session.


  1. Set aside 10 minutes at the beginning of each day to conduct this mini-planning session.
  2. Make yourself a cup of Coffee or Tea (if you enjoy this sort of thing) and fill up your water bottle.
    • Filling up your water bottle is really all about you and has nothing to do with prioritization!
  3. Sift through any new request and pull out ones that are truly urgent or critical, these can take precedence over step 4 items until complete. Any remaining requests can be delegated, if possible, or be assigned to the list in step 5.
  4. Identify those tasks that you can complete during the day that directly impact your current project or responsibilities.
    • Remember to ensure (if at all possible) that you can feasibly accomplish the goal you give yourself here. Demoralization can occur if we aren’t careful with expectations.
  5. List out remaining tasks to be completed once your previous list of high priority tasks is finished.

It sounds almost silly in its simplicity, at least it did to me when my husband (a combat veteran) presented me with this plan. I had been overwhelmed for weeks at work and it was beginning to take a toll on me. Hilarious as it was, watching him write out these steps in hot pink dry erase marker on our glass sliding door next to the kitchen, I paid attention. The next day, I began applying these simple prioritization steps to my daily routine. All of the sudden, at the end of the week I felt accomplished and ready for the week ahead.


Thanks for taking the time to read. Now, go fill that water bottle back up!

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