Priority function? What’s the deal & how to prioritise?

Don’t you find yourself wondering from time to time how to prioritise better? How is your priority function working? Why do you find some things more important than others?

Employers usually ask how to prioritise one’s work. My standard answers boils down to tangling in a couple of factors. Which task is ultimately contributing to the highest ROI? Who is dependant on my work to continue their workflow? What is their status? How long does it take to complete a task? Usually I handle the smaller tasks rather quickly but I like to start my day with the biggies, the chunk of work which demands more of my mental power.

With all the current productivity hacks out there, I asked myself how to become even smarter in our approach to work. Friction points occur for the reason that the human motivational factor is not fully understood. The classic motivational tool for employees is a monetary incentive seems to be outdated.

Each single employee has their very own productivity and happiness function which means incentives need to be adjusted around that. If one is put into a box to just work and produce while the human is then left alone in this system of work, leadership is pretty much absent. We need to rethink true value creation in today’s competitive business world. This lead me to assess the current productivity enhancement tools.

I liked Wunderlist, an app for the phone where you can insert tasks and when you complete one a sound appears which gives a bit of a feeling like you are playing some sort of Nintendo game where you reach a next level. There is definitely a touch of gamification to it. When the entire list is completed, you will see a motivational quote appearing and that feels even more like a reward. It seems that one reaches a moment of clarity. A kind of truth becomes visible only if you are on track and get the best out of yourself.

What I was missing in Wunderlist though is that it is pretty much operating in its own boundaries. I’m not really capable of adding any notes to it and many of my tasks are still in my Outbox inbox. It seems that my office-job tasks are best to be handled directly through the inbox. I use the flags and category colours to set some priority. For projects where I need to keep my colleagues on track or where I need them to complete a task, we use Asana now. Initially we tried Evernote, but that seemed too static in itself, at least within the team environment.

I came to the realisation that the personal motivational mechanism needs to be aligned to the things which motivate me. So I needed to answer a couple of questions for myself: What do I enjoy doing? Meeting up with friends. Go to an event. Go for a walk. Get a coffee. Checking one of my Twitter lists (e.g. Travel). Explore a coastal town and take pictures. Go swimming. You could say that all of these are things to do which not ultimately serve any sort of value creation, but they do. These are things which keep me in balance, in my zone.

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