Priority is a singular word

A google search for define priority yields the following result:

Define priority web result
It’s singular

Note the example sentence “”the safety of the country takes priority over any other matter.” Also note the similar phrases: prime concern, first concern and most important consideration. The interesting thing to note about these examples is that they are all SINGULAR. There is no mention of priorities, prime concerns, first (,second and third) concerns or most important considerations.

This defining singularity is not an accident. Until the world became a place where people struggling with information overload started to believe they can multitask, nobody made mention of priorities. The word was always singular: priority and that represents powerful intent of purpose. In a hunter gatherer society, the priority was finding food. Without it, the community starved. A writer knows his or her priority is to write words. If they don’t write, then they can’t claim to be a writer. Similarly, a salesperson knows their priority is to sell units. Everything else is extra.

It has recently become fashionable for someone to arrive late and tell you “Sorry. I was juggling multiple priorities.” Or for the chairman of a meeting to declare, “we have 5 priority items for this meeting.” A quick glance at the agenda will show you there are 5 items on it.

A sticky note with the word "priority" written on it
Start working on it

To claim to have multiple priorities is to say everything is important. If everything is important to you, then nothing is. With multiple priorities, all you do is divide your focus and your productivity suffers as a result. A good hunting dog knows not to chase every rabbit. Rather, they pick one to chase. If the dog attempts to chase each rabbit, the rabbits will scatter and the dog will catch none.

Priority was never meant to be a plural word. That is why the verb form is to prioritise not to priorit(ies)ise. If you believe you have more than one priority right now, then now is a good time to do some thinking. A good question to ask is If I could focus on only one thing today, what would that be? That thing is your priority. It is the one thing you want to get done before anything else. That is what you should be focusing on. Otherwise, you are the hunting dog that is chasing every rabbit. You may be getting lots of exercise but you certainly aren’t achieving results.

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