Have you got entirely too much on your plate? Do you have so many priorities that you can’t possibly keep up with them? Are you distracted, overwhelmed, and feel like nothing good is happening? Then it’s time to deal with that. It’s time to have a conversation with your boss about what are and aren’t priorities.

I know that doesn’t sound like a fun conversation. That’s probably because your boss doesn’t know what the word priority means. Somehow the managers I come across these days think that deprioritizing something means saying that it’s less important. So what they’re going to tell you is that “all of it’s on your performance review, so all of it’s important”.

That’s not actually what prioritization means.

The word “priority” comes from the idea of what comes first. You’re not saying something is any more or less important. What you want to ask of your boss is, “which of these things do you need completed first?”

This is a question that’s very hard to shirk off giving a real answer to, because you’re asking them to pick one thing that you will then work on with focus and quality until it’s done. You just need them to pick which task should get this excellent treatment first.

So shift your strategy. Instead of asking your boss which thing is more or less important, shift to asking “which of these should be completed first?” You’ll get much better outcomes. It’ll allow you to deal with the overwhelm and feel less distracted, with is a really good thing.

But all of this does mean you’re going to have to have an uncomfortable conversation with your boss. I get it; that’s not fun. Thankfully, I’ve got some great tips for you when it comes to doing this. Here are four secrets to speaking truth to power.

More on this

Why You’re So Busy and How to Ruthlessly Prioritize

Prioritize Means Deprioritize

How to Handle the Flip-Flopping Boss

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