The Priorities section of your Check-in allows you to create, track, and mark priorities as complete. While some people like using the Priorities section as a to-do list, others use it in more strategic ways. This article walks through various use cases and ways we've seen our customers successfully utilize Priorities in 15Five.
In this article, you will learn...
When to use Priorities vs Objectives
Objectives are great for larger, longer-term, or aspirational goals. They paint the bigger picture of the goal you are trying to achieve, including specific key results that act as your deliverables along the way. We all know that there is a ton of work that goes into each key result. Key results don't always reflect the day to day work involved. Usually a key result will have a whole list of tasks that must be done in order to complete that one deliverable. This list of tasks is full of great candidates for the Priorities section of your Check-in. You can even link priorities in your Check-in to objectives you own.
Priorities help structure your work week/month. These are tangible, short-term tasks that are the most important items for you to complete in a given Check-in period. If you're having a hard time figuring out what your priorities should be, imagine that you're trying to adding big rocks, pebbles, and sand to an empty jar. If you begin by adding sand and pebbles to the jar, there won't be room for your big rocks (priorities). Your "big rocks" are things that are the most important in your workload, your non-negotiables— put these in the Priorities section of your Check-in. The sand and pebbles (smaller tasks with a smaller impact) can follow.
Use cases for Priorities
- Track recurring task completion
- "The fresh start effect” and flexible priorities
- Task management
- Daily self-assignments
Track recurring task completion
Let's say you have a recurring weekly task. You want to use your Check-in as a reminder to complete that task and then show that the task is done. This is a perfect use case for Priorities. From your Check-in, you can mark the priority as complete, use the cycle option to repeat the priority on your next Check-in, and submit. Meaning the priority was completed on the current Check-in and will also appear on the next Check-in. (Notice how "Pull weekly board report and numbers" is a past priority and is also a priority for the next Check-in period.)
The "fresh start effect” and flexible priorities
According to the fresh-start effect, people are more likely to take action towards a goal after temporal landmarks that represent new beginnings. "Examples of landmarks that trigger the fresh-start effect include the start of a new week, month, year, school semester, or birthday."
You can take advantage of the fresh start effect by utilizing flexible priorities after your Check-in was initially due and submitted. Let's say your Check-ins are due weekly on Fridays. Fridays are common due days because it allows reporters to look back and celebrate wins for the week. With the fresh-start effect in mind, you would continue to report on Fridays, but would revisit your current Check-in on Monday and add/edit/update priorities for the week.
Check-ins require at least one priority in order for you to submit, but that priority can always be edited or removed after initial check-in submission.
Priorities can be used to document all the little tasks you have to do/have done during a busy work week. If you are feeling slightly worried that you may forget everything that you need to do or just want to document everything you accomplished during the week, use Priorities!
Priorities on your Check-in can be rearranged to display the most important tasks at the top. You can also include the day of the week that you want to get the task done in the priority field itself, virtually allowing the Priorities section to double as a task management tool.
While science suggests that having only three priorities per week leads to higher focus (aka "do less, then obsess"), we know that at times there are more than three tasks on our radar. If you have more than three priorities, it may be helpful to put an asterisk or two (**This is priority #1) before your top three priorities, denoting these are the three that you must get done before all the rest. You can carry over lower priority priorities to your next Check-in to continue work on.
You can list your priorities day-by-day to make sure you are focusing on only one task per day. "Do less, then obsess" is a saying we are fond of around here. The alternative is seeing a big list, not knowing what to focus on, and then feeling overwhelmed. Organizing your priorities by day is a great way to avoid decision fatigue.
Again, if you have more than three it may be helpful to put an asterisk or two (**This is priority #1) before your top three priorities, denoting these are the three that you must get done before all the rest.
Related resources 📖
- Help Center article 💡: OKR Methodology explained
- Help Center article 💡: Use cases for Objectives
- Help Center article 💡: Fill out a Check-in
- Blog post ✍️: What are OKR Goals? The Basics of This Goal Setting Approach (7 min read)
- Video 🎥: Objectives Overview (5 min)
- Webinar 👩💻: 15Five Objectives Training (24 min)