Last time we took a journey through my personal history of prioritization (or lack there of). We left off at graduate school, where I wasn’t handed a planner, but a handbook. Did I dutifully learn to prioritize now? Did I learn to abandon procrastination — forget its very name — and press on boldly into the future? Did I do all of those things that seemingly guaranteed my success as a student and (theoretically) as a future professor? Did I? Or did I fail to do those things, find myself wallowing in a pit of despair (of my own making), and slowly but surely cover up whatever light I had left with the darkness of procrastination and the viscous fluid that is anti-prioritization liquid? How about: All of the above and not sure yet.
I’m still in graduate school, actually. I’ve passed all of my tests and my classes and other requirements and have just one thing left: a dissertation. So I haven’t failed (yet). Even the success of being at this stage in my studies doesn’t mean that I was the greatest “prioritizer” over the period that I’ve been in graduate school. I’ve had some horrible troubles with prioritization in my time and I still do to this day. The question is: have I gotten better at it? The answer is “yes.” While I’m not advocating a “just do enough” policy towards prioritization, it’s often really hard to prioritize. Right now I’m fighting the battle between money (something my family and I need) and working on my dissertation. It’s a tough decision. One of the words you’re going to need to learn in order to prioritize is “no.” Those two powerful and scary letters can save you lots of time. Use the often and use them wisely. Prioritize in your own way. You don’t necessarily need a planner.