The Art of Prioritization
How to assess potential new opportunities.
“Should I take on this new project?”
I’ve met a ton of high-performers who constantly struggle with this decision.
It’s tough. On one hand, you don’t want to miss out on new opportunities (FOMO!), but on the other, you don’t want to be constantly working.
Every new opportunity comes at the expense of your time and energy—the most precious things in your life.
Personally, I’m obsessed with optimizing my time (perhaps to a fault), and through experience, and dozens of conversations and experiments, I’ve come up with a mental model that I use at times like this.
So far, it’s worked, and today I’ll share it with you.
Let’s dive in 👇
The Art of Prioritization
My "mental model" is a basic checklist with 8 requirements that I use consistently to rank opportunities.
If it meets all the requirements—I say YES to it (provided I have the time and energy)
If it meets less than 6 of the requirements—I say NO
And anything in between is a MAYBE
But before you use the checklist, you need to first have a clear sense of your goals and motivations. That way you’ll know how the requirements fit into the longer term vision for your life. This article might help.
Once you do, keeping reading.
Learning & Experience – will you learn new skills and gain relevant experience?
Relationships – will you build valuable relationships?
Personal Brand – will you elevate your status and personal brand?
Compensation – will you be fairly compensated?
Impact – will it help you positively impact the community?
Personal Values – does it align with your personal ethics and values?
Future Opportunities – will this open up doors for exciting opportunities?
Fun – will it be energizing?
If it hits all your requirements, it’s a no-brainer—you should do it.
But if the project checks off somewhere between 6 and 7 items, you’ll have to take a deeper look at the outcomes you want.
Here’s the framework in action:
Simple right? I’ve learned that basic heuristics are most effective for complex problems. KISS ("Keep it simple, stupid!")
That’s not the final step though.
You still need to think about other things like:
Time & energy commitment — do you have the time (and energy) to be involved?
Are you set up for success? — do you have the right skills, experience, and circumstances to be successful?
People — will you be working with the right people?
Risks — are there impactful risks that you need to think about?
Be realistic here. It’s easy to get so excited about a new idea that you miss the red flags.
And if every project is passing all your criteria (say, 5 projects in a row), then perhaps you need to raise the bar.
But ultimately, this should help you eliminate the noise and realize which ideas are worth pursuing, and which are not.
Best of luck!
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