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Setting priorities

Setting priorities
Properly setting priorities is an essential skill for business success. 

Take a long-term view when setting priorities and you’ll have a much greater chance of achieving your objectives.

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Identify Your Goals

Start by taking a bird’s eye view of your life and slowly nail down more specific goals.

Identify your big goal. Then get more granular and identify specific goals along the way.

Each goal you set should be S.M.A.R.T. — Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely.

  • Specific: The more specific your goals are, the better chance you have of achieving them.
  • Measurable: Can you identify milestones to hit along your way to success?
  • Attainable: Are you willing and able to make the necessary sacrifices to achieve your goal?
  • Relevant: A goal that you care about.
  • Timely: Make sure every goal you set is time-bound.

Start planning daily tasks.

These tasks can then be organized on your to-do list.

Use the Eisenhower Box

A highly effective framework for setting priorities.

Tasks are classified into one of four boxes.
  • You want to first focus on Important and Urgent tasks
  • Tasks that are Important but not Urgent should be scheduled in your calendar. 
  • Urgent but Not important duties should be delegated when possible. 
  • Assignments that are Neither Important or Urgent should be eliminated from your to-do list completely.

By prioritizing tasks this way, you’ll allow yourself to really focus on the important things without becoming distracted.

Another way to prioritize tasks is by using the 80/20 rule. This rule states that 20% of your work will account for 80% of your results. 

To use the 80/20 rule when setting priorities, analyze the items on your to-do list. Which of them will have the greatest impact on your current project, career, and life? These are the tasks you should focus on. 

Everything else can be delegated, dropped, or accomplished after you’ve completed the most important assignments.

Eat the Frog First

“Eat a live frog every morning, and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.”

Regardless of where this saying comes from, it’s a valuable concept. If you struggle with procrastination, you would be wise to schedule your most difficult assignments first thing in the morning.

First, write down every single task you need to accomplish. Then go through and mark each task with a letter ranging from A to E.

  • “A” tasks are very important. If they aren’t done, you and/or your business will experience serious consequences.
  • “B” stands for important tasks. They are things you should do, but will only result in minor consequences if they are left undone.
  • “C” tasks are those you’d like to accomplish, but don’t represent any negative consequences when left incomplete.
  • “D” stands for delegate. These are assignments that should be completed, just not by you. Send them to someone else.
  • “E” tasks should be eliminated. The more jobs you cross off your to-do list immediately, the more time you have for the most important assignments.

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The Action Method

Time commitment to get started: Medium

Type: Abstract

Perfect for people who: Need to turn creative brainstorming into an actionable to-do list.

What it does: Tidies up the messier aspects of creative work.


It involves breaking down ideas into three key categories: Action Items, Backburner Items, and Reference Items.


Action Items are the steps you take to get the project done.


Backburner Items are the interesting ideas that don’t directly fit into your plan for this project.


Reference Items are the resources and information you’ll need to complete the project.

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IDEAS

  • Why am I on the payroll? Ask yourself if what you are doing right now is the most important thing that you have been hired to do.
  • What are my highest value activities?
  • What are my key result areas? What are the specific results that you have to get in order to do your job in an excellent fashion.
  • What can I, and only I, do that if done well will make a real difference?
  • What is the most valuable use of my time, right now?

...halfway through your bounded time period.

Changing them dilutes focus, and keeping teams focused is the entire point of the OKR.