Get Rid of Your "Low Priority" Tasks
It all starts out so innocently at first. We arrived here with the best of intentions. It makes sense! It's what we've been taught to do! We need to prioritize things, people!
And it's true. In every project management system I've ever used or created, there is always a way to label the priority of a task. This is, in fact, incredibly important to managing your time and your workload - especially if you are a business owner or leader in your company.
Sometimes the range is simple: "low, medium, high"
Sometimes the range is more complex: "P1, P2, P3, P4" with P1 meaning DROP EVERYTHING AND PUT OUT THIS FIRE! The extra urgency has come in handy more than a few times.
However, I have always had an issue with "low priority" items. What does "low-priority" even mean?
Ideally, it means: "Handle these tasks only after ALL of your other tasks have been completed!"
Sorry - when have you ever gotten to that part of your to-do list?
I have yet to meet a single business owner that has found this mythical relaxed chill time at the end of their busy week. A magical time we pretend we will find. A moment when all of our high- and medium-priority tasks are finally taken care of and we can actually tackle those "low priorities".
What usually happens is that these items get pushed further and further down the pipeline. They are eternally rescheduled. I know, because as your business manager and project manager I have personally rescheduled all of these tasks for you.
I'm just going to say it - this makes my skin crawl. It's my Virgo nature. I can't stand loose ends just flapping in the wind. I despise these tasks taking up space on my list.
Can we all just be real and admit that "low priority" is code for "never gonna happen"?
I'm not just here to complain though. I bring solutions!!!!
Here is what I propose...
1. Use the Eisenhower Matrix.
Let's get really comfortable using the Eisenhower matrix to determine what we actually mean when we say a task is "low-priority". Is it important but not urgent? Is it urgent but not important?
2. Is this only a low-priority task for now?
Is this task low-priority because it's not important yet? If this is the case, schedule a time to take care of this task when it will actually BE important, and then mark it as such. Stop spending energy thinking about something until you actually have to. You're busy!
3. Is this always going to be a low-priority task?
Maybe this item is a low priority... forever? Uhm... can we just freakin' ditch it then? Come on - LET'S GET CRAZY. Wouldn't it feel GOOD to just get rid of this pesky eternally low priority item? Get rid of the clutter on your to-do list!!!! What's the worst that could happen?
4. Is this a high-priority item in disguise?
Perhaps this is actually a high-priority item in disguise that you call a low-priority item because you just don't want to deal with it. Maybe this low-priority task doesn't even take that much time! (You know, like scheduling a dentist appointment.)
Here I would like you to stop, pause, and reflect on WHY you keep pushing this off. Think about the item, not in terms of time, but in terms of Effort. Story Points are a good use case for this. Do you know how to begin? Does this take a lot of emotional or mental energy, even though it won't take much time?
Acknowledging why something feels like it's being pushed off will give you the tools to getting it done.
5. Can we actually get rid of these low-priority tasks?
At this point, you might be saying "DEV there will always be those pesky low priority tasks. I just can't ignore them - but I can't justify prioritizing them over other tasks!"
Well, my friend, you might just have to. Once a series of "low-priority" tasks start piling up, it's time to block out time on your calendar to get those suckers taken care of. You need to protect this space on your calendar with all your might. Resist all temptations to schedule something "more important" over this. Trust me - you will feel better on the other side.