Email and Facebook messaging have made prioritizing tasks a challenge.
Which gets done first: Listening to voicemail on the office phone, reading email, or reading Facebook messages? Often, I have several of each waiting for me at any given time. Email is easily read on my phone while waiting for a lunch appointment but hard to respond to most all of it except for the simplest messages. Typing on the iPhone or any other type of phone for any length of time is a pain. Responding to Facebook messages is easily done at anytime too, and conversations are usually more simply answered, because their nature is usually just a quick birthday greeting or an appointment confirmation.And this doesn’t even take into account text messages or other methods of communication.
To prioritize these is darn near impossible. I usually end up dealing with the current ding or buzz as it comes in. If it requires a larger response, a conversation with someone about it, planning or a series of steps before I can respond, I will usually try to at least start that process before looking at the next one. What is an ongoing frustration, however, might be a psychological place as much as the evolving (or devolving) ways we communicate, and that is: assigning priority to answering a person’s messages has to factor in someplace.
The “low-hanging fruit” is the easy stuff; the sacred relationships lie in the harder, longer, more thought-out answers.