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  • Writer's pictureScarlet Spark Team

Even-Over: A Powerful Tool for Effective Prioritization

Updated: 5 days ago

A flock of birds crossing the road

At Scarlet Spark, we surveyed leaders at 60 animal advocacy organizations around the world and found they had one glaring challenge in common: a sense of not having enough time.

While we don’t know of any tools (quite yet) to expand time itself, in this guide, we’ll share one of our favorite prioritization tools to help you make better use of the time you have.

Why prioritization matters:

Before we explain what this tool is and how it works, let’s touch on the three main reasons prioritization is such a powerful antidote to a chronic feeling of time scarcity.

  1. Focused progress: When we know which work matters most and which is best to pause or postpone, it lets us focus. The result is faster progress, along with a greater sense of accomplishment (which prevents burnout and further fuels our progress).

  2. Thoughtful progress: A small number of priorities doesn’t just support work speed and quantity, it also helps improve quality. Constant context switching (even inside our own minds) impairs strategic thinking, causes mistakes, and increases stress and fatigue.

  3. Aligned progress: Last but not least, having fewer priorities allows organizations to align their limited time and resources to achieve big results. To quote the spiritual teacher Sri S. Satchidananda, “There’s no value in digging shallow wells in a hundred places. Decide on one place and dig deep.”

Given all the psychological and organizational benefits of strict prioritization, it’s no wonder research shows that companies with fewer org-wide priorities outperform their stretched-too-thin peers.

How ‘even-over’ helps you prioritize:

Given the importance of prioritization, we’ll share several prioritization exercises and tools in future guides. For now, we’ll begin with one of the most simple yet powerful prioritization techniques we know called ‘even-over.’

Even-over was popularized by Holacracy, an organizational governance method designed to enable agile and adaptive self-management. In short: it’s a system that lets employees take aligned and decisive action without stopping to wait for orders or ask for permission.

How even-overs works:

  • Even = higher priority

  • Over = a lower priority (yet still perfectly reasonable and often tempting option)

Your even-over audit:

Even-overs apply to just about every area of work where you have to make decisions – especially if you need several people to make similar decisions quickly and independently. Use the tool below to audit the clarity of even-overs across your company:


Strategy: how we’ll achieve our mission and vision

We’ve chosen to focus on _____ even…

over ________.


  • Farm animals

  • Wild animals

  • Asia

  • The largest cities

  • Systems change

  • Other animals

  • Companion animals

  • Other regions

  • A large number of cities

  • Behavior change

Objectives: most important results to achieve

It’s most important for us to achieve _____ even…

over ________.


  • 10 major donors

  • 70% repeat volunteers

  • 90% engagement

  • An on-time MVP release

  • 80% client NPS

  • Many small donors

  • More new volunteers

  • Hiring more people

  • Adding more features

  • Saving time on service

Priorities: most important deliverables or focus areas

We’ll focus our time and resources on _____ even…

over ________.


  • Growing IG followers

  • Increasing close rate

  • Improving onboarding

  • Recurring donors

  • Diet change

  • Facebook or LinkedIn

  • Reducing time-to-close

  • Increasing hiring speed

  • New donors

  • Other purchase changes

Values: how we collaborate and make decisions

In all our work, we choose _____ even…

over ________.


  • Progress

  • Inclusion

  • Courage

  • Context

  • Learning

  • Perfection

  • Speed

  • Comfort