Establishing priorities is difficult for many of us. "How," we ask, "can you say one item is more important than another item when everything is important?" The alternative to consciously setting priorities is unconsciously reacting to demands as they occur. Reacting seldom brings the best results. Initiating action requires control coupled with decision- making abilities. In your efforts to establish priorities, ask yourself the following eight questions:
- What are our practice goals? If we had to identify our primary goal, which one would it be?
- By what criteria do we now establish priorities?
- How can careful timing and coordination of our goals help us become more effective?
- Since we feel all our goals are important, how can we make sure that the activities required for one goal don’t hinder another goal?
- Do we have a good understanding of cause-and- effect relationships on our individual jobs? Do we thoroughly understand what activities lead to the results we want/need? If we don’t, where can we get some answers?
- Which of our goals will bring the greatest value to the practice?
- Which of our goals will bring the greatest personal satisfaction?
- Which goals are beneficial to the greatest number of people?
Remember, too, that as difficult as it is to set priorities, you make a priority decision even when you decide not to set priorities. By default, you allow any urgent activity to control your time while items of greater importance go unattended.