The Accomplished Solopreneur

Issue 22.50

Saturday, December 10, 2022

What are your no-conflict priorities?

I recently heard the term “no-conflict priorities”. It was a new one to me, but someone explained it to me as follows:

No-conflict priorities are those things that take precedence no matter what else is going on in your life.

Here are a couple of examples:

  • Your child is in an accident. This is now your no-conflict priority - whatever else is happening in your life is going to have to wait.
  • A client calls with an urgent request that you do work for them.The work is bigger than you’ve ever had before, will guarantee great cash flow for a year and you love working with them. You drop everything else to chase this opportunity - this is now your no-conflict priority.

The principle of no-conflict priorities is that when one shows up, everything else waits until you’ve dealt with it. There is nothing else that conflicts with this priority because it is the most important thing you have to deal with now.

The hierarchy of no-conflict priorities

There’s obviously a hierarchy of no-conflict priorities. If a client shows up with a lucrative offer, that becomes your no-conflict priority.

But if you’re in the middle of chasing this opportunity, and you hear that your child (spouse, partner, loved one) was in an accident, you suddenly have a new no-conflict priority that takes precedence over everything else.

These are examples of things that show up and become no-conflict priorities.

But we can also use the principle of no-conflict priorities deliberately.

Deliberate no-conflict priorities

Every Friday morning, I have one or two no-conflict priorities:

  1. My weekly financial admin. It takes me less than 30 minutes to update my books and check transactions and bank balances.
  2. Writing the weekly Weekend Solopreneur article (if I didn’t write it already).

I start with the first task and don’t do anything else until it is done - no matter what else is waiting for me during the day. Nothing conflicts with this priority.

When the first one is done, I do the second - this is now my no-conflict priority, and everything else has to wait until it’s done.

Using deliberate no-conflict priorities to get stuff done

I had to do a little mindset shift to make this work - but the results are worth it.

Every morning, as part of my start-up routine, I write down the top three things I need to get done that day (and any other things I would like to do).

When I start on the first task, I tell myself that this is now my no-conflict priority. Everything else is going to have to wait until it’s done.

This little mindset shift has had a profound effect on how much I get done. Just the idea that there are no conflicts with this task has helped me reduce the things that slow me down.

One of my biggest distractions is email. Even in the middle of writing this article, I’m tempted to quickly go and check what showed up. Sometimes there’s an urgent client request, other times (like today) an interesting article that leads down a rabbit hole… And before I know it, I’ve been totally side-tracked and the task I was focusing on is still waiting for me.

Telling myself that the task I am working on now has reduced the number of times I succumb to temptation and get distracted. It doesn’t always work, and it takes time to make this part of your thinking patterns.

But the more I do it, the more I get stuff done.

What are your no-conflict priorities?

Take a few minutes to think about your no-conflict priorities. There are three parts to this.

1. No-conflict priorities that show up unexpectedly

First, there are those that show up unexpectedly and take precedence over everything else. These are easy to figure out - accidents or emergencies always take precedence over anything else.

You will notice that when you list these, there is absolutely no doubt in your mind that if this kind of thing happens, you will drop everything else to deal with it. Your priorities are very clear.

2. No-conflict priorities to plan your work

Now try to apply the same principle to the work you have to do today, or next week. What takes priority over everything else? Once that is done, what takes priority over everything else?

3. No-conflict priorities to help you focus

Finally, when you start a task, tell yourself that this is now your no-conflict priority. You’re going to focus on this exclusively until it is done. And because there are no priority conflicts with this task, you won’t be checking email, or taking calls, or check your social media.

Give it a try and let me know what happens.