Have you set any posteriorities lately?  In a challenging section of The Effective Executive, Peter Drucker writes about the difficulty most of us have giving enough time to the future and the ideas and opportunities that await.  Most of us respond to the challenge of what’s on our plate by attempting to choose priorities; identifying the best way to use our time.  The problem, Drucker says, is that our time remains dominated by daily pressures brought on by yesterday’s crises and that squeezes out the time needed to develop the future opportunities.

Think about your life right now.  Think about what you’ve spent big chunks of time on in the last few weeks.  How much of what you’re doing is about tomorrow?  How many times have you set aside work on the project that will enable the next development in order to put a bandaid on something from the past?

"The reason why so few executives concentrate [on future opportunities] is the difficulty of setting ‘posteriorities’ — that is, deciding what tasks NOT to tackle — and of sticking to the decision (p. 110, emphasis mine)."  That’s big, isn’t it?

What prevents us from actually setting posteriorities?  According to Drucker it isn’t a lack of intelligent analysis.  It is a lack of courage.  Dohhhhhhh!

"Courage, rather than analysis dictates the truly important rules for identifying priorities:

  • Pick the future as against the past;
  • Focus on opportunity rather than on problem;
  • Choose your own direction–rather than climb on the bandwagon; and
  • Aim high, aim for something that will make a difference, rather than something that is ‘safe’ and easy to do (p. 111)."

Question #1: When you examine your calendar for the last 7 days how much of your time have you spent picking the future as against the past?  How much of your time has been focused on opportunity?  How much on problems that are associated with yesterday’s initiatives?

Question #2: What will you do today?


Priorities and Posteriorities