Tips on Setting Priorities

Tips on Setting Priorities

One of the biggest challenges I see entrepreneurs face is setting priorities. For many entrepreneurs, the to-do list is overwhelming and if you focused on the list itself, you would be engulfed in chaos. The way past the feeling of overwhelm is setting priorities so that your highest impact activities are being done first.

Stephen Covey had it right:

setting priorities

But how do you go about setting priorities when so much has to be done? When everything seems important, how do you decide what to do first? I think the process may be different for everyone, but here is what I do.

First, sit down with a piece of paper and write down all the tasks you can think of that need to be done. Just accept the fact that it will be overwhelming and daunting. Do it anyway. Then divide your tasks into categories. Now, they may be different for your particular business, but the categories I use are: Income Producing, Planning, Foundation, and Administrative.

So any tasks that are directly related to producing income, like creating content, attracting customers, placing ads, or calling prospect are placed on the Income Producing list. Any tasks like research or goal-setting or writing a business plan goes into the Planning bucket. Things in my Foundation category are activities like connecting with potential business partners or establishing and maintaining social media profiles or attending events. Administrative is my catch-all category. Here’s where I put one-shot tasks, like “open a bank account” or “call so-and-so about”or routine business activities like review reports.

setting priorities

Now you start setting priorities in each category

I always recommend you start with the Income Producing category. Identify those tasks that are or could become income-producing immediately. If you are in business, generating cash flow needs to be priority number one. Take your list of income-producing activities and break it down into daily, weekly, monthly or long-term tasks. If you have a daily task that you need to do to help you make money, then that becomes your number one priority EVERY DAY, no matter what else you do. For your weekly, monthly or long-term tasks, set a schedule beside each and put them on a calendar.

Now look at your list and decide which, if any, of those tasks could or should be outsourced or delegated. If you know who can do it for you, great. If not, then you’ve just found a new task to put in your planning category – research outsource possibilities.

Do the same with each of your other categories. In short order you will have a list of daily activities, weekly activities, monthly activities, and future projects.

Now setting priorities becomes all about time

setting priorities

Once you have your lists, now you have to allocate your time. You have your family life, your activities, and your quiet time above and beyond your business. Even though it may seem counter-intuitive, it is NOT a good idea to work on your business 15 hours a day. Your mind needs a break. Constant work will wear you out and kill your enthusiasm. And we don’t want that.  Only you can decide how to best spend your time.  But if you are deliberate and consistent about doing what must be get done FIRST, you will continue to move forward.

And finally, review and update your to-do list frequently. I suggest that you do at least a weekly review so that you can ensure that you are allotting time for new projects and tasks as you think of them. Setting priorities is a never-ending job.

So I hope these tips help you in setting priorities for your business. If you have any particular tips on how you set priorities, please share them in the comments below so we can all learn from each other.

Here’s to your success,


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