How understanding the origin of the word ‘priority’ can impact your productivity.

Essentialism I recently had the chance to read Essentialism: The disciplined pursuit of less, by Greg Mckeown. This book brought a lot of clarity into why otherwise smart and capable people don’t reach what they want in life, into why it’s easy to get caught up by the trivial.

In particular, this very small thing, understanding the origin of the word priority had a profound impact in me.

The word priority came into the english language in the 1400s, and it was singular, priority. What do you think it meant? The most important, the first thing, the prior thing. So, it kept that definition for the next 500 years, and it was only in the 1900s that we started pluralizing the term, priorities. But what does this mean? Is it possible to have many first things, many prior things?

What are we really doing when we choose the top 10 priorities in our business, or in our life?

So what we started doing now at Junto Studio is that every Friday, we have a dialogue in which we choose our priority for the next week, we choose the single most important thing we believe will have the most impact for the business. Then we choose a personal priority, the way in which each one will accomplish the priority we have for the company.

How has this changed us? I’d say radically.

To me, it has given me clarity into why I’m doing what I’m doing. It is easy to act on, I know exactly the one thing I should be doing. It is easy to measure, did I accomplish this one thing? As a group, it’s easier to work together, because everyone it’s focused on the same thing.

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