You can only have one top priority.
There’s always lots of important things going on, there’s always a lot of demands on your time and there will always be more than you are able to do.
So, you’ve got to be really clear on what is the top priority at any given time.
The advice is particularly valuable if you work in a team with lots of different stakeholders, or even just one who’s very demanding. As much at they might want to have 5 top priority “must do” items, there is actually a list in order from 1 to 5.
As a leader, one of the major strands of your role is teasing out that ordering. You need to manage the list and set expectations across stakeholders. You want to be pointing your team at item number 1, especially if it’s “important but not urgent”.
A physical list of priority items is a powerful tool. When a stakeholder requests a change, or shares more about the value of an item lower down the list, then you can show them the impact of moving something up, and how it moves other things down.
This approach is particularly valuable as you gain active engagement from the stakeholder. They aren’t able to assume you are working on both the old and new number 1 priorities in parallel. The physical list allows you to document the change, so you’ve covered the case of any accidental misalignment as well.
With a single number 1 priority, you’re then able to focus effort towards the top most important thing, and ensuring that if anything doesn’t get done then it’s less important than what does get completed.
Don’t lose focus, show your working and make sure there’s only one number 1.