The Priority Trap [the broken link was removed – long term reliability of the web page links isn’t a priority I guess] by Dan Markovitz makes some good points:
I agree. It inspired me to write some of my thoughts on this area. I find prioritization important. Often deciding you will not do something (and not waste time and energy on things you won’t ever do) is the biggest step toward focusing on the most important items. Focusing on important, whether urgent or not, tasks often requires avoid seemingly urgent – but in comparison unimportant tasks.
However, I like the idea of keeping a list of items that are pretty low on the priority list for several reasons. Sometimes they can be incorporated in another project without much effort (they are not worth doing on their own but while doing something else it can make sense. With a visible list (wiki technology is good for this) everyone can know what has been thought of and given low priority – they might be sparked by an idea either to give reasons why that should be a higher priority or as in brainstorming to propose another idea… You can look at the list when thinking about a redesign and incorporate whatever might make sense.
When staff have little blocks of time items can be assigned for them to work on (often serving double duty – getting the job done and serving to provide a task that provides some employee development…) – these tasks often may not be picked because of priority but a combination of priority, educational lessons and available time, skills…
Over the years working in Information Technology (which may lend itself particularly well to tasks that don’t make sense as stand alone items but make sense to remember whenever certain parts of the code are going to be improved) and in coaching others I have found keeping a list of all the ideas useful (eliminate those that are not worth doing at all but leaving those on that might be worth doing in certain circumstances).
You do have to be able to separate the tasks that really require proactive effort and those that might be nice to get to but realistically are fairly low on the priority list (and making that visible, again a wiki is a useful tool, to everyone so everyone can see what are high priorities and what are really not going to be actively pursued – they will be addressed if the circumstances align favorably but that is all). I must admit I have not seen others that find keeping a more detailed list that useful, but I do.