Sure, you think you’re good at prioritizing, but if I don’t – my health and career could evaporate. Literally.
I’ve always been a “prioritizer” but my ruthlessness has increased exponentially in the past 11 years. It’s easy to remember when I made this shift because it started one year after my son was born, and he’s now 12.
Yes, parenthood forces more prioritization across the board, but I had a second forcing function that appeared out of nowhere to compound this “below water” life stage — POTS.
POTS is a life-altering illness (now more broadly known within the context of Long COVID) with a wide range of functioning levels and symptoms per individual. I am fortunate to have a milder case, but the first three years were rough. Most doctors in the US hadn’t heard of it or how to treat it over a decade ago.
I could only be upright for about 4-6 hours/day and ultimately couldn’t work. During those years and for the past decade, I have come to value the energy I have tremendously.
Energy is a limited resource. I must conserve it and use it wisely. I can’t afford to waste my energy on the wrong things. I don’t have enough energy to do everything I’d like, which is similar to time and resources. Whether you have limited energy or time, POTS or not, kids or not, you have to prioritize everything.
I have become a superhuman prioritizer.
From the grocery order to the camp drop-off.
From the Lord Huron concert to the camping trip.
From a recurring one-on-one to a candidate interview.
From the new shopping cart feature to new profile data.
From a legacy platform migration to a large new feature for a shiny new customer.
Whether in your personal or professional life, it is imperative to prioritize everything, at every level and stage. You can ruthlessly apply prioritization to artifacts, meetings, slack channels, processes, your to-do list, new product features, new products, etc. You can follow endless frameworks (MoSCoW is a personal favorite). Still, it doesn’t matter how, just do it.
Why prioritize everything?
To put it simply, you get happier teams and customers.
The key is coming up for air and doing it every **step along the way. This got me through the hardest years of my life as a mom, wife, friend, athlete, and professional. POTS forced ruthless prioritization and has made me highly efficient, and impactful, in any professional capacity or setting.
Whether you are faced with POTS, a different chronic illness, an acute challenge, a busy life with lots to juggle, multiple jobs, etc., prioritize first and foremost before diving in.
In my first role as a project manager at a large financial institution, I remember sitting on a “concall” (pre the zoom era) for a simple objective: Get power to a physical server for the infrastructure project I was supporting.
There were no less than 5 project managers on the recurring weekly call from various teams — the Security PM, the Networking PM, the Infrastructure PM (me), the Hardware PM, the Application Development PM, and more.
I was amazed that something as simple as plugging in a new server in a data warehouse could take that many people and weeks to accomplish.
At such an early point my career, I wondered…
Is “business” just super complicated that it warrants several project managers in a single meeting?
Are weeks-long turnaround times customary for small tasks?
Are the majority of people indifferent to routinely unproductive meetings?
In hindsight, I’m that inefficiencies at this specific company were the norm, but I now realize I wasn’t alone in my frustrations.
Operating efficiently is more difficult at scale, but a key solution is the same everywhere — effective and ruthless prioritization.
Without prioritization, timelines will drag on forever, people will get overwhelmed or lose motivation, the wrong things will get accomplished, business goals won’t be reached, and ultimately, money will be spent on the wrong things, i.e. avoidable waste.
Use any prioritization techniques you want, just do it.
Codingscape's top 4 product prioritization techniques
I tapped into the collective Codingscape brain to narrow the plethora of prioritization techniques to our top 4 that we use alongside clients.
These frameworks can be helpful for things such as new features, new products/initiatives, tasks/to-dos, or even artifacts, meetings, processes, etc.
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Kim uses LinkedIn to share her thoughts on product delivery, prioritization techniques, and enterprise product development and design.