Emergent priorities

I’ll start the week tomorrow morning with a priority list for the week. But it is highly unlikely that the priorities in the list will survive the week. I think of this as the tension between deliberate priorities and emergent priorities.

Emergent priorities are priorities that show up because of some new stimulus in the system. New information came up, something broke, someone decided to do something different, and so on.

There are 2 challenges with emergent priorities –

(1) It is tempting to resist them. That’s futile. Circumstances change. It is best to accept this reality and move on.

(2) It is equally tempting to just throw away our deliberate priorities and deal with the emergent priorities instead. That extreme also is rarely the right answer. Some emergent priorities do demand our attention. Others require a bit of attention to better understand the problem so they can find their spot on the list or perhaps be ignored entirely.

The key with dealing with emergent priorities as we plan for our weeks is to know that they’ll show up. And when they show up, our first reaction will often be one of frustration.

That knowledge helps us welcome them with equanimity and deal with them.

In the final analysis, that’s all we can hope to do. Keep calm and keep plugging away.