A simple trick here is to say (expected utility) = (expected value) / (expected effort). As long as you're consistent across projects (which may be hard), you can use this to force a ranking of different work items. Some traps I've seen people fall into (myself included!) include:
- Working on urgent-but-not-important items. Done too often, this means important-but-not-urgent items don't get done in a timely manner.
- Working on the items that are most interesting, or that are most like work I already know how to do. This isn't always the most important thing to be working on.
The truth is, I don't really believe there is a one-size-fits-all answer for prioritization. To me, this is a function of the role I'm in and the asks placed on me. The projects I work on tend to play out over long periods of time, so rather than thinking about priorities, I think about ensuring I meet explicit and implicit commitments I have made to others. In order to do that, I need to make sure I understand the scope of what I'm responsible for, what resources I have available (my own time, staff on my teams), what's needed to push an initiative forward, and what milestones I'm working towards.