from the Blog

Drowning in Priorities – the Next Right Thing


I am overwhelmed – drowning in priorities.

I feel like I am in over my head. 

I sat at my desk this morning and didn’t know where to start. 

Meet my Goals? – I am just trying to get through the day. 

I count my ‘to-do’ list by pages instead of items. 


Which one of these can you identify with? All of them – Yes. Welcome to the club. It happens to everyone at some point in their career. For some it is cyclical, happening several times per year. For others it may be the result of the perfect storm – the overlapping of unforeseen events – work, family, and other things outside of your control.

'next right thing'We are the doers. We seldom say no to an assignment. We take on a greater load than the rest of the team (at least that’s the storyline). We are bombarded on a daily basis with new requests, new things to add to our list. And sometimes it just plain catches up with us.

What to do? How do we get back on track?


At the risk of sounding somewhat cliché – do the ‘next right thing’, take the next step.

Really, it is that simple – just do the ‘next right thing’. Here are some of the things I do when I need to get back on track:

  • Forget about the bigger picture – just for today. Do not worry about the ultimate outcome. Sometimes thinking about the big picture or ultimate outcomes can paralyze us. Forget about making your quarterly numbers or the project deadline. Just focus on the ‘next right thing’ to move the project forward.
  • Focus on the Next Right Action. Pull out a fresh sheet of paper or blank page in your journal or day planner – write down five (5) actionable things that you can do today. Abandon your goals, the multi page ‘to-do’ list – just focus on today’s action items. Focusing on five actionable items helps to avoid inefficient multi-tasking. And checking things off today’s action items is rewarding, gives you a sense of accomplishment, and just plain feels good.
  • Identify two (2) things on your ‘to-do’ list to delegate. Almost every list has a few items that can (should) be delegated. I know – no one can do it as well as you (one of my personal vices). First, this is usually wrong. Second, even if they do it differently, it got done. Would it have got done staying on your list?
  • Resist the urge to research or reorganize – or procrastinate (pondering is another one of my personal vices). Just do the ‘next right thing’. Prepping for an upcoming presentation recently I found myself at an impasse. Continued brainstorming and outlining was not getting me any closer to the finish line. It was important to identify and move forward with an actionable step. What I thought was a sidestep created clarity and focus.
  • Talk to a friend or mentor, someone that can help you with perspective, someone that can listen. Sometimes just saying it out loud brings clarity. Avoid, avoid, avoid – did I say AVOID – becoming part of a ‘pity party’ – you know what I mean.
  • We are not abandoning the big picture as we take the next step. If you have a big project, schedule review and planning time as an actionable item, a task, with a clear end goal and deliverable. For example, developing a project milestone schedule is an important task and actionable item.

This week . . . .

If you are drowning in priorities, take a step back, return to the basics. Quit over thinking it. Create some actionable items – the ‘next right things’, some next steps.

You will be back on track before you know it.

. . . . go have an Awesome Week!

Tom Trabue