What do we accomplish by letting priorities dictate our process?
Before instituting the priorities system in our office, paper tended to pile up in globs. The mail would sit on the corner of Jenny's desk until I had time to deal with it. Eventually, I would grab the pile and bring it to my office where it would sit in another pile. Often, the pile would look so intimidating that I would find other things to do, usually sitting behind my computer monitor safe from the pile. Eventually I would go through the pile and attach the routing sheet which dictates everything that happens with that document, from calendering, to scanning options, to routing, to to-do items generated by the document, and to digital filing. My document routing cover sheet also prioritizes a document on a scale of 1-4.
Although I have always rated my scanning in terms of priority, I failed to develop an effective process around that prioritization. I would take the entire pile, more often than not with the #1's on top and the #4's on the bottom and drop it in a big pile on Jenny's desk. Jenny would check the pile for priorities, but no doubt, sometimes succumb to the sheer size of the pile, an intimidating foe.
Now, the #1's fly through the office at a much faster pace. The #2 pile which is typically not so big finds it's way through the process at a nice pace. The #3 and #4 piles are the largest. They sit, each in their own neat stack, waiting to make their journey up to a higher slot.
What can I tell you. The paper flow where once sporadic is now balanced and steady. Priority items don't get lost in the pile, hiding in plain view among the 8 1/2 by 11 sheets of sheer chaos. If one worker is not available, the job does not sit in their in-box undone, waiting for that person to return. Most office tasks become ubiquitous and available to several as opposed to just one.