How to prioritize when everything is a priority

It’s the nature of the beast: deadlines, exploding printers, clients’ demands (and schedules) all get thrown into one big hopper, scattering our focus. Our jobs as the boss (even if/especially if we are our own boss) each day: sift it, rank it and fix it.

We serve as counselor, creative idea generator, executor and priority-setter. Chief cook and bottle washer. Janitor. Oh, and it was needed yesterday.

With our own identities conspiring against us and technology morphing faster than you can say gigabyte, focus becomes even more of a premium skill in today’s world. The topic of focus has crossed my laptop, handheld and hootsuite about seven times in various guises this week alone, soit’ss my best guess that others out there are wrestling with the same issue: How do you prioritize when everything’s a priority?

Wired‘s Nicolas Carr asks if the internet is literally changing our brains. The New York Times has an online test to see how well you can focus: have you taken it? Pretty wild. For those keeping score at home, I tested out at 92% and 100%, respectively.What’s a bit scary (at least for me) is that the more distractions there were, the higher my concentration level became. Perhaps I was destined to be an air traffic controller?

To make matters worse, folks who gravitate to entrepreneurism tend to be highly enamored of shiny objects and are loathe to miss The Next Best Thing.

I had a point somewhere.

Oh. Yes. Focus. How do you prioritize when everything’s a priority?

Be quiet. Find somewhere where you can shut out all distractions and breathe for a couple minutes. When I was in radio, I used to get in the booth, shut the door, flip the ON AIR switch and zone out for 15 minutes. Ask yourself “what’s important today?”

Apply a triage lens to Your List:What’s bleeding? What can wait? Record it in whichever way works for you: Outlook task list, pen and paper, tickler file. Then follow up accordingly.

Set up the pins and knock ’em down. One. At. A. Time. Multitasking does not work.

Honor your system. Establish the foundational structure (of your business plan, of your social media presence et al). Then honor it. Make it a habit to honor your system and you’ll discover a paradox: structure provides fluidity.

RELAX. Hold your shorts on, man. Unless you’re MacGyver, the fate of the free world does not rest in your hands. Besides, tense people can’t flex. Bring your breath to center and recalibrate when you feel as though you are going in circles.

Celebrate your victories, no matter how small. Success begets success.

You can do this. What do you think? What works best for you when you need to focus?


Molly Cantrell-Kraig is a woman with drive. Possessing an innate sense of purpose and a pragmatic, solution-based approach to empowering people, she fused these two traits in order to establish Women With Drive Foundation. Based upon its founder’s personal history, Women With Drive Foundation is a means through which Cantrell-Kraig may effect change on both a micro and macro level. By providing women with something as essential as personal transportation in order to transition them from poverty to prosperity, she, through Women With Drive Foundation, seeks to empower women to help them help themselves. Through this action, the individual applicant benefits, as does society as a whole. Follow Molly on twitter as @mckra1g or @WWDr1ve (Women With Drive Foundation) or “Like” them on facebook.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *