How to Decide What Comes First When Everything is IMPORTANT?

Written by Cathy Kay, Armand Larive Middle School

All projects, especially large, complex projects or events need clear priorities.  Sometimes that is easier said than done.  Things happen, no matter how well-planned; “snow days”, unexpected schedule changes, testing, assemblies, you might need to re-prioritize.  But still, knowing how to prioritize affects the success of your project or event, the involvement of your leadership students, and your role as a leader.  One of the biggest challenges for leaders is accurately prioritizing the work that matters on a daily basis.

To help manage our student’s workload, we have a few steps that we use to prioritize our projects;

  1. Make a calendar of all upcoming events. Put together every task that is coming up, don’t worry about the order or the number of things that are going to be happening.
  2. Identify urgent vs. The next step is to see if there are any tasks that need immediate attention. I am talking about tasks that if not completed by the end of the day will have negative consequences.  If not, make a list and assign either high or low urgency or importance;

Urgent          vs.      Important

High                           High               Most important

High                           Low                3rd most important

Low                            High               2nd most important

Low                             Low                     Lowest

  1. Order tasks by effort. If you’re still not sure how to get started on the projects that aren’t quite as important or urgent, I like to start on whichever one I think will take the most effort to complete.  Sometimes it’s nice to get some of the smaller projects completed, so I would suggest going with your gut and do that.
  2. Be flexible and adapt. You never know when the weather or schedule changes are going to keep you from completing a project, uncertainty is a given. But you also want to stay focused on the tasks you’re committed to completing and do it if possible.