Personal Productivity: Managing Your Priorities

Posted by Chuck Kocher
On July 16, 2012

As a business coach, I’m often asked to help individuals be more productive. There never seem to be enough hours in the day, and in today’s business environment, everybody wants to work smarter and get more done.

There are a ton of productivity tricks and tools out there. Some work and some don’t. Some work for some people and don’t work for others. There’s nothing wrong with trying tools to see what might help you, but after years of coaching individuals, it strikes me that being productive really isn’t so much about tools or techniques. I believe that one of the most important ways to boost productivity is by managing priorities. That means making sure that you know what the most important things really are—and that they get your top priority.

Maybe the best way to illustrate this is to share with you how I prioritize. I have certain things that you might call “default priorities.” Some things (obviously) rate higher than others. But I always know what I need to focus on—and what’s most essential. Here’s a quick overview of how it works for me.

1. Coaching: My number one priority is coaching. Everything else I do—including reading, studying, and all the other priorities I have—contribute to my ability to do this, and do it better. This is my bread and butter. Anything that doesn’t align with this priority has got to go.

2. Sales/Lead Generation: I have to engage in sales and lead generation activity to enable my ability to coach. I don’t expect business to come to me. I have to pursue it. So if I’m not coaching, my next priority is to pursue coaching opportunities.

3. Marketing Strategy: Sales and Lead Generation don’t happen on their own. I need to be strategic about how I position myself. I need to understand my audience and how to reach them. And I need to be proactive in doing it. So if I’m not coaching or pursuing new client relationship, I work on the things that will help me do that.

4. Events/Speaking: I’m very fortunate that I have opportunities to speak or present at events.  But this isn’t my main focus. I only pursue these opportunities when time opens up and I don’t have clients waiting. And I make sure the opportunities support my priorities of strategically positioning myself or generating new coaching opportunities.

5. Strategic Alliances: It’s good to build relationships with like-minded individuals and people who are connected to your primary audience. I have a group of about 30 people with whom I continually build strategic relationships.

All of these things are priorities, but they don’t all carry the same weight. I could easily spend most of my time developing and cultivating strategic relationships. But that’s not my primary priority. I could spend 50 percent of my time on marketing strategy—but I don’t. I’m much more productive because I live by priorities. All my priorities are important—but they’re not equal!

What are your “default priorities”? What are the four or five things you need to do—no matter what—if you’re going to succeed? Do you know what they are, and do you have them in the right order?