It’s possible to win the priority game

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Kasparov playing in Harlem (Picture from
Kasparov playing in Harlem (Picture from

This morning I read an interesting post from @ckfio on her blog, out of frustration, she was talking about priorities.
I have won and lost this priority game many times, it’s like playing chess, pay too much attention to any of your pieces, and you will be checkmated too soon. I remember years ago a great friend that loves to play chess lost the game every-time he lost the queen; as soon as he lost the queen, he lost his confidence, and it was easy to beat him. His priority was to save his queen, mine (while playing against him) was to take the his queen, winning the game became secondary.
The priority game works in a very similar way. If you are unable to see the whole chess game, you are most likely going to loose. My priority is to write, I am a writer. Among other things, I have a Sales Manager job; but my priority is to write, to improve in the technique. At my Sales Manager Job, the priority is to sell, they do not care that I am a writer, they do not care about my priority, they need me to sell; it is upto me to define the rules, and find a way to win at both games.
The problem is, you can’t define the rules while you are trying to push and force priorities, you need to stop, regroup, analyze and set the rules, then you can enjoy the game. While playing chess with my friend, the rule was simple, take the queen. After that was done, winning the game with whatever you had left. In life there is more than the queen, it’s like playing Kasparov style, against 15 to 20 people at the same time.
How do you define those priorities?
In my case, I use a software called MindManager from a company called Mindjet (, I have many maps that allow me to help and guide me through the priorities of the day and all the the important stuff. I also use  my calendar that allows me to define the free time I have in the day (free to do vs meeting time, I mean), and my lists per contexts. But the most important tool is setting up the time to think, the first priority for me is to make sure I stop and think. Someone asked me, when do I get the time to think, my response is simple, I make thinking a daily priority, ust like taking a shower, rushing my teeth, feeding the dogs, working and many others, I have learned that if I do not stop and think, I will loose the game.
Every morning I begin my day by making sure that I stop. I make coffee, clean my inbox, read all my next actions (tasks) (at the time of writing this, my tasks are more than 250), open Mindjet MindManager (My Dashboard File), and stop. The first thing to check is what are the things that will die if I do not do today, my next actions, one by one and and complete the list I created (up to 10 items).
Now I have a guide. If by 10 am I got a ball of fire thrown at me (it has happened many times before) I just need to evaluate that ball of fire against 10 things, not 250; it makes a big difference, trust me.
In order to win the priority game, you need to define the rules, it is impossible to win a game that you do not know the rules of. While playing chess, all the movements are defined, all the things you can and can not do are established. Thanks to this, someone can win the game against the other person. If you do not define the priorities, you will never win, you will always have more things to do than the time you have to finish things, you will always have more things to do than the time of the day. There is always a ball of fire coming your way, the big question is, how do you respond to all those, keep your cool and move forward. The only way I know how to do that, the only way I have to win the priority game, is define the rules, stop, regroup and rethink. Even then, I have lost my fare share of games, but trust me, I am a more difficult opponent that my friend. If you took my queen, I know how to play the horse, the tower and the pawn.
Are you playing the priority game to win, or are you just loosing the queen and the game on the same move?

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Augusto Pinaud

Augusto Pinaud es Coach de Tecnología de Productividad Bilingüe, Especialista en Nozbe Teams. Augusto trabaja con dueños y gerentes de pequeñas empresas, ejecutivos y profesionales en productividad, tecnología y mejora de procesos utilizando una variedad de tecnologías de productividad.

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