My Five Priorities

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My Five Priorities - Marcus 2229

“My priorities between now and the end of the year will be to…”

Doesn’t this self-conversation sound like a noble one? Here you are deciding to yourself to really zero in on a few key things for the last two months of the year. On its face, it sounds like noble goal-setting. Dig a little deeper, though, and you’ll realize that you have too many pre-resolutions before your New Year’s resolutions!

I am grateful to author Greg McKeown for the eye-opening insights he shared in his book Essentialism. One of the main takeaways I got from reading it was that the word “priority” originated in the English language in the 1400s as a singular word. Over time, we have made it plural. A priority in its truest sense, however, should focus on only one thing: the most important thing. To have “priorities” is to distort the real essence of the word.

Focusing on one thing at a time has helped me to produce better results in my academic life and, interestingly, even with my domestic responsibilities. Ask my 7-year old son. He probably knows when I made his spaghetti while also reading a book and when I made it focusing on nothing else but his stringy, cheesy delight! More and more people are debunking the theory of multitasking, exposing it for what it really is: task-switching . The ‘multitasking’ myth is simply preparation for doing more than one thing in a distracted way, often leading to mediocre results.

In the upcoming week, chose one big thing to accomplish on any given day. Not two, not three, not five, just one. Do it wholeheartedly. Do it thoroughly. Chances are, you will do it excellently.

This Post Has 12 Comments

  1. Allan Augustus Cunningham

    Dear JT Marcus, Thank you, this is a journey as I look to switch to accomplish just 1 big thing per day, I have felt at peace when I try this, but I find old ways hard. Thank you for the reminder. Allan Cunningham

  2. Michelle Marcus

    This is great. I am a culprit at multitasking thinking it is a great thing but most often a disaster because something always suffer. Task switching is the right name but excellence can come from deliberate focus. Thank you.

    1. J. Tyrone Marcus

      You are right Michelle. Deliberate, deep focus is the precursor to excellent work.

  3. Richard Baboolal

    In the back of our heads I think we know this, but life screams and demands from us at every turn. It takes real courage to focus/ prioritise one thing above all others. Thanks for the insight Tyrone. I want to apply it, praying that I have the faith to.

    1. J. Tyrone Marcus

      Yes Richard. Courage, focus and faith are great ingredients to build a life of excellence. The key is to stick to our convictions about focus and resist the many (sometimes legitimate) distractions that pull us away from concentrating on the most important thing.

  4. J. Tyrone Marcus

    Indeed Allan. I have grown up thinking that I was being efficient by multi-tasking but all I was doing was watering down the quality of multiple things. I am now a convert to the philosophy that I need to have a deep focus on one thing at a time so that it can be done well.

  5. Chad Phillip

    Well said … In a time with so much going its hard to give 100% to one thing but if we can’t give 100% to one thing, if we truly search ourselves we’ll find we are not giving 100% in anything. Let’s start with one.

  6. J. Tyrone Marcus

    Very well stated Chad!

  7. Lara Dowell-Tang Foon

    Thanks for this insight! I am guilty of focusing on many priorities at a time. Truth is some jobs demand that you have that capacity to “multitask”. Setting realistic boundries through stating the deadlines that can be met or making new realistic deadlines can really help with managing this need for doing everything at once.

    I have had to force myself to focus on one thing at a time but often failing. I assume that DNA may have a hand in this as women naturally need to move from one task to the next quickly to manage several projects/responsibilities. I’m sure we all burned a few pots along the way….no doubt birthing the invention on items like: slow cookers, rice cookers, bread makers, digital steamers etc.

    Inspired to keep the fight toward working at one priority at a time!

  8. J. Tyrone Marcus

    Hey Lara, I appreciate your perspectives on this journey to learn the art of deliberate focus. When we can prioritize effectively, it brings clarity which itself is a key ingredient to success. You’re on the right track so stay inspired to grow in this area. We are all works in progress.

  9. Anika Jules

    Wow, I have never been capable of multitasking and i always thought of it as a fault . You have given me inspiration and as I look forward to this new month, I will be trying to be more focused on one project at a time and see how this works out.

  10. J. Tyrone Marcus

    I appreciate your positive outlook Anika as you anticipate growth in this area. There is real value in focusing on one thing at a time and doing it well before moving on to the next thing. Best wishes.

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