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Bridges Blog Independent Living Resources Series: Juggling June 20204

Prioritization

Juggling June

Join our talented Project Coordinator, Chris Nusbaum, and our Director, Carlton Walker, as we dive into the “soft skills” we need in order to avoid a HARD landing!

  • June 4: Prioritization
  • June 11: Task Time Budgeting
  • June 18: Managing Calendars
  • June 25: Travel Time Budgeting

In this first Juggling June installment, we’ll discuss prioritization and discuss techniques to help you use prioritization to help you tackle the tasks you must juggle.

What Is Prioritization?

The term “prioritization” describes the process of determining the order in which you will complete a collection of tasks, but it involves more than just picking a time or day. For example, we do not “prioritize” breakfast over lunch and dinner simply because we eat breakfast first. In fact, we may choose to spend more time or money planning a special dinner. In those cases, we have prioritized dinner over the breakfast in which we just grabbed a granola bar on the run.

Instead, prioritization involves ranking tasks. Tasks that are more important or have short deadlines may be ranked with higher prioritization than tasks that are less important or that can be completed at later dates.

Steps In Prioritization

Before we can tackle prioritizing a collection of tasks or duties, we must lay the groundwork. Below, please find an example of the prioritization process for a high school junior with two weeks of school left. This student plans to attend a four-year college after high school and hopes to work some this summer by picking up odd jobs (babysitting, tutoring, mowing lawns, etc.).

Making a list

Our high school junior has a BUNCH of things to do, and it is hard to decide what to do first! Making a list can really help our student get a handle on what needs to be done. Here is our student’s list:

Identifying relevant factors

While factors in making prioritization decisions can vary based on personal needs and goals, many prioritization processes focus on Urgency and Importance. Urgency refers to deadlines, and importance encompasses the level of impact of the particular task.

Assessing each list item in terms of our prioritization factors

Using our student’s tasks set forth above, let’s assess the tasks in terms of Urgency and Importance.

  • Final exams and projects
    • Urgency is based on deadlines. In this case, the deadlines are the exam dates or project due dates.
    • Importance may vary from class to class. Importance variables include:
      • How well the student is doing in the class.
        • If the student understands the class material well, there may be less need to study because the student already knows the material.
        • If the student is doing well, there may be less need to study because the student may have so many points already that the student’s grade might not be impacted much by a relatively poor score on the final exam or project.
      • The student’s interest in pursuing further study in the course area.
        • If the student wants to major in music in college, the student will need to perform well and continue to improve musical abilities long after the final project or exam.
        • If the student does not enjoy a course area and has completed the final high school graduation requirement in that area, the student might focus only on passing the class with an acceptable grade.
  • Get odd jobs
    • Urgency may be based on the lead time to get the jobs.
      • Babysitting might be a hit-or-miss job with many new opportunities arising throughout the summer. If this is the case, getting jobs lined up might not be very urgent.
      • Tutoring might be more long-term throughout the summer. In that case, it would be very important to establish tutoring clients as early as possible to ensure work throughout the summer.
    • Importance will likely vary on the student’s needs and desires.
      • If the student needs funds or is very motivated to work many hours, completing the tasks necessary to get jobs has high importance.
      • If the student has other priorities over the summer months (such as family trips, socializing with friends, or summer school, securing summer work might be of lower importance.
  • Preparing to apply to and pay for college
    • Urgency will be tied to the student’s individualized circumstances.
      • If the student plans a gap year, this task will not be very urgent.
      • If the student has to get financial resources, this task may not be as urgent.

Importance will likely be high for a college-bound student. However, if a student is not certain about attending college soon after high school, the importance of this task will be lower.

Putting Prioritization In Practice

When we have created our list of tasks and have determined the urgency and importance of each, we are ready to prioritize. In most cases, priorities will be ranked as follows:

In this hierarchy, Importance is prioritized over Urgency. Of course, there may be cases where the reverse will be true.

Also, take care to re-visit your prioritization list regularly – even with regard to Low Urgency, High Importance items (second priority). Without regular attention to the list, the deadlines for Low Urgency items can sneak up on you. Then, those tasks become High Urgency, High Importance tasks. Yikes!

Final Thoughts

No matter how you tackle the process of prioritization, you’ll be glad you did. By engaging in this effort, you will gain more control of your responsibilities, and you will be better able to manage your time.

Speaking of time management, next week’s Bridges Blog will be Task Time Budgeting. Join us for the next step in Juggling June, and reach out to us at the Bridges Helpdesk for assistance anytime!

Please check out the Bridges Technical Assistance Center Resource Library today!

Contact us

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This unique project is being coordinated through The IMAGE Center of Maryland, a center for independent living in Towson, and it is funded by a grant from the Maryland Department of Education Division of Special Education/Early Intervention Services.

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