Yes, sometimes you can best manage your priorities by doing nothing. What is a priority anyway? It’s a task at the front of the queue. The doing nothing comes in for tasks not in the front of the queue. Can you ignore these secondary tasks until your priorities are handled? Yes, you can. Because getting distracted, voluntarily or involuntarily, often ensures that nothing at all gets done.
One way to manage your priorities is to limit what you define as a priority. There can’t be too many of them in one day. Schedule time to complete your priorities realistically, considering things such as “must go to” meetings. Your priorities may be big ones that can’t be completed in a day. If that is the case, “chunk them down” into daily tasks that move you forward to completion.
As I faced this issue of how to manage my priorities, I came up with a system that was very effective for me. At the beginning of each day, I would determine what priorities needed my immediate attention. I would schedule several tasks for that day that would move me forward on my priorities. I would limit the tasks I scheduled to things I could complete in half of my day. I would focus on these tasks until they were completed, not allowing distractions to derail me. Once they were done, I still had time in my day to do other things. This system created movement and accomplishment and increased my capacity for focus and completion.
What about those distractions? You have to practice discernment and create boundaries to deal with distraction. True emergencies must be dealt with, but you don’t have to let yourself be thrown off course by “the crisis of the day”. Sometimes distraction can be caused by overwhelm and not knowing what to do next. Doing nothing on non-priorities and non-emergency distractions allows movement. You will get things done. The distractions will minimize, both through sharpening your own focus and as others realize that your focus is on your true priorities.