Draining the priority swamp

(Continued from yesterday, when we tried to Fix Everything by doing the “A” priorities first and expecting our staff of unicorns and fluffy kittens and floppy-eared bunnies to handle the “B’s” and “C’s”. And it didn’t work.)

UPSwampI’ve tried to follow instructions. I’ve made lists, lovely long lists, endless lists, of goals and projects and obligations. Lists that leave me with a splitting headache and a feeling that I might throw up if I spend another five minutes adding to them. Other times, I’ve forced myself to keep the master list bearably short so I can figure out which ones matter and what’s unimportant – and that’s even more depressing, because I wind up with a list of 76 “A’s”, 32 “B’s”, and 4 or 5 “C’s”. And you know what? Trying to do seventy-six Really Important Things all at the same time doesn’t work.

Enough. I need a different approach. The A-B-C tactic is just too theoretical to help me. It leaves me groping through a fog with no idea where my goal might be, no idea whether I’m getting closer or farther away from it or just wandering in circles. I need a way to see when I’m getting somewhere.

Actually, I think I’ve been tripping over it – sometimes literally – all summer, while we’ve worked on emptying my mother’s house: Work by sections. Clear out one room, or one corner of one room, then go on to the next. If you have to, make room to work by lugging part of the mess somewhere else, somewhere you’ve already cleared, and return to that pile later.

I won’t be able to tell at a glance whether what I’m doing is the thing that needs attention more than anything else I could possibly do – but if I’ve learned one thing by fiddling with ABC priorities, it’s that I don’t know which project needs to be done first. Doing things by space instead of priority has at least one thing to be said for it: You can see things change. And that would be a good enough purring floppy-eared unicorn for now.

Maybe it will work.

 

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