Saying no to everything so that you can say yes to the right things is the essence of prioritization. There will always be a stream of incoming requests and tasks, and you will rarely have the luxury of working with a static list of items that you can cull and then implement. The items on the list keep moving, shifting, contracting, expanding, so in reality prioritization is more like an ongoing effort that cycles over and over, almost daily. This is why the prioritization skill is so important, why it’s core to leadership—it’s a daily behavior.

The more you push items both to the top and bottom, the better you will become at quickly assessing new work to determine whether it is, in fact, one of the right things. Your right things list should evolve to become more tightly defined and crisply stated, until you’re able to track your personal progression in terms of how much value you are contributing to an organization over time. Table 7.4 lays out guidelines to help you do this.

Table 7.4 Summary of the Right Things, Not Everything for Organizations, Leaders, and Individuals

Organizations Develop a strategy statement that defines what is in and out of scope for the organization.
Leaders Select and relentlessly communicate prioritization lenses that are relevant to the team.Consistently apply prioritization lenses to eliminate the lowest-priority work and elevate the highest-priority work.Encourage teamwork to jointly tackle highest-priority projects, to execute and ...

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