Organization, Priorities, and Tradeoffs

Jason Leueng|| Organization

Today I felt adrift. Have you felt that way? I have written down my goals, have a task list, responsibilities, and am organized. But I woke up today thinking I didn't know what to do to meet my goal. Should I rethink my plan? I’m adrift.

When you’re adrift, how do you find yourself?

Finding yourself means finding your focus again. Reflect on what has set you adrift and decide its importance. So, I will spend the rest of today refocusing on my goal, ignoring what set me adrift, and getting back on track.

We all occasionally get pulled off track. Today, I let the organization of a training website distract me because I find it very confusing and hard to follow. So my focus shifted from my goal to how to figure out the website, which wastes my time, back to working towards my goal.

So it’s time for me to do my breathing meditation, learn to go with the flow of the website, and move forward toward my goal.


When you set your goals and priorities, you’re aware that sometimes you will have conflicts and have to make tradeoffs. For example, I want to write daily, but because of other commitments and medical issues, my best days for writing are Tuesday through Saturday. So, defining a goal for daily writing doesn’t work. I need to change to a weekly goal at least.

In balancing the conflicts I now have, I have to rethink my priorities and goals to allow for my energy levels and other commitments. This requires a change in my organization to contend with my body’s rhythms and the conflicting commitments.


Despite the plans, we’re still faced with making daily tradeoffs. We get up in the morning and look at what we planned to do and have to do something else. Many tradeoffs occur when we’re doing the wrong thing at the wrong time or we don’t have clear priorities. For example, I want to watch a webinar at 10, but I start writing and continue writing until about 1030. I wasn’t aware of the time or organized enough to stop writing and switch tasks.

Another common tradeoff is distractions caused by a phone call or computer notifications. You stop what you’re doing, lose your train of thought, then when you try to get going again, it requires time to refocus.

It’s Up to You

However, you’re in control. The goals and priorities you set and your organization can evolve, change, and optimize as you want. You consciously decide what to do and when to do it. Practice reflection daily to keep yourself from going adrift and if you do drift, pull yourself back on track.

Know your energy levels. When is it best to tackle your hardest tasks? When you can only do routine tasks. Take a week and map your energy levels throughout your day. Then plan to do your hardest tasks when your energy is high.

Create a task list that identifies the energy level you think you will need to have when you work on the task. This will allow you to plan your day and get more done.

For me, I start each day reviewing my email, not what I would recommend to anyone else, because this is low-level work and you can do it anytime. But this works best for me because of a medical condition that requires me to be up for a while before my eyes focus, so I can do the more difficult work.

Learn what works best for you, minimize distractions when you’re doing your hardest work, and organize your tasks so that you know which requires you to be more focused.



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