Prioritization, Deciding What’s Important

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I’m writing this a little later than I originally planned because I’m going through my first Q4 with my Amazon business and things have been hectic.  However, now that things have started to ease up and my schedule is slightly less demanding, now is an excellent time to write about prioritization!

The Dilemma

As entrepreneurs, we’re born to spot opportunities and pounce on them.  For myself and a lot of my colleagues I’ve spoken with, it seems that the natural tendency of a hustler is to behave like a dog chasing cars.  If we’re not careful and we don’t discipline ourselves, we’ll end up starting several projects and never quite seeing any of them to the finish.

In addition to managing various projects, often each individual project will have several tasks, most of which will be absolute requirements to get finished before the project can be considered complete and the other tasks that would just be nice if they could be completed before launch.

The Solution

Enter prioritization.  We all set priorities whether we realize it or not.  No matter how busy we get, most of us will not go more than maybe 20 hours or so without sleep (on average) and for me personally it’s rare that I’ll go too long without eating.  Eating, sleeping, hydrating, … are all subconscious priorities we set because of biological reasons.  In additionally, we may have bad habits that have turned into priorities.  For example, I checked my Amazon sales before finishing that last sentence because I got distracted.

It’s important to be deliberate with your prioritization.  When done consciously and properly, prioritization allows us to take the cluttered mess of opportunities, tasks, and obligations, and turn them into an ordered list of action items.  Having a list of action items lets you spot what needs done and when and also lets you identify opportunities to outsource.

How to Prioritize

To set priorities, you need to know what your goal in life is.  Do you have a ‘mission statement’ for yourself?  Would you like to make sure to spend plenty of quality time with your family?  Are you wanting to meet any specific fitness goals soon, such as running a half marathon?   Are you wanting to continue to grow your business and get on the Forbes list of Billionaires?

You may have several goals, but once you know 1-3 overarching goals, it’s important to prioritize those and write them down.

Once you have a list of your goals, look at your opportunities, tasks, and obligations and ask yourself if they get you closer to your goals and if so, by how much?  If you have multiple goals which opportunities get you closer to the goals you want the most?  You should also consider the effort.  For instance, if something can get me closer to a big goal of mine and all I have to do is make a single 5-minute phone call, that opportunity is more advantageous than spending a weekend doing something that only marginally gets me closer to a goal.


For example, if your top priorities are to spend plenty of quality time with your family (priority #1) and to grow your business 5% every quarter (priority #2) and you have the following opportunities:

  • Go on a week-long networking trip where you’ll likely snag a couple new accounts
  • Spend a day develop a new landing page for your service and tweaking your email campaign that will likely lead to an additional 10-20 leads per week
  • Attend your son’s basketball game
  • Date night with the wife

Going on the week-long networking trip will mean we can’t do any of the other items on the list, however we will likely meet one of our goals of growing the business.  If these accounts were big accounts and could help you exceed your 5% quarterly goal and even get you to a point where you may be able to out-source some of your operations so you could spend more time with your family, it may be worth the sacrifice of missing your son’s basketball game and date night with the wife.

However, if the accounts you could snag at the networking event weren’t that great, since family time is top priority, you’d likely be better off working on your landing page, attending your son’s basketball game, and going out on date night with your wife.

The Take Away

Everyone’s priorities will be slightly different.  There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to life goals.  However, if you don’t make sure you’re aware of what matters most to you and that you’re taking the necessary steps to achieve those goals, it’s going to be hard to achieve your maximum level of happiness.