one strategy to prioritize ideas


Originally written in August 2019. Updated in July 2020.

Do you have a strategy for the million-and-one things on your to-do list?

Do you feel like there is no order to your list and no matter how hard you try, some still don’t get done in time or if they do get done in time, you’re not entirely satisfied with the result?

Prioritizing 101

For the longest time I struggled with too many priorities that didn’t get the individual attention they deserved or that only got partially completed.

I would go back and forth between priorities, being pulled between the urgency of the some priorities while still wanting to tend to the other ones.

It felt like I was always putting out fires instead of calmly going about what I needed and wanted to do. I realized my way of doing things was not only causing a huge disservice to myself and my business, but also to those around me that depended on me to get things done.

I needed a new strategy.

The playoff strategy.

This new strategy came to me as an epiphany at a tennis match.

Years ago my dad, a lifelong tennis fan, invited me to watch a tennis match during the Roger’s Cup tournament in Montreal, Canada.

As we were making our way to central court, I noticed a huge board with all the names of the players on it. As the players won their match, their names were moved towards the center of the board until only two players remained to face off in the final match.

The board looked something like this:

If you’re a sports fan, you’ve seen this type of board in all playoff seasons, from NBA to NFL.

That was my ah-ha moment.

That’s when I realized my priorities needed a playoff strategy.

If I was going to get anything done efficiently, I needed to define what was my most urgent priority and once completed, move on from there.

How to apply the playoff strategy to your priorities

FIRST take out a pen and paper and write down all your priorities in no particular order.

This step is very important. You need to write down everything that needs to get done. If you find you have too many priorities, make categories for each type of priorities.

For example, I have a “family” category, where I write down my personal priorities and those regarding my husband, our children, our dog, etc.

I also have a “business” category where I write down my priorities regarding clients, marketing, team meetings, etc.

You can have as many categories as you want but remember, the aim is to strategize your priorities. If you create too many categories and your top priorities get confused amongst all the categories, you’ve missed the boat.

I say stick to 2 or 3 categories at most.

Now that you’ve written down all your priorities, it’s playoff time.

Your SECOND step is to include all your priorities into the playoff board.

You can create your own board or you can CLICK HERE and download your free copy of my playoff board. Simply print and fill it out.

Once you’ve included all your priorities in the board it’s time for the third and final step.

THIRD step is to determine which priority advances to the next round.

At the end of this exercise, your board should look something like this:

Looking at my board, I know my first priority is to prepare for my client meeting. Once that’s done, I can move onto the next priority which is to respond to emails and so on so forth.

Keeping the end goal in mind

If you think it’s time consuming to do this exercise, you’re right, it is, but it will save you loads of time in the long run and will ensure that your priorities get the attention they deserve and actually get done. It will also relieve you of the stress of not knowing what needs your attention the most or what needs to get done next.

If new priorities come into play, add them to your board as you go along.

Another great way to do this board is with post-its on a wall or large board.

Write down the priorities on post-its and then move them around as new priorities are added.

Remember though, this is a strategy to get things done efficiently and effectively. Don’t play around too much with your board once it’s completed.

Keep the end goal in mind: getting your priorities done!

Once you’ve tried this strategy, leave me a comment below and let me know how it worked for you. Or send me an email to share your thoughts. I always love hearing from you.

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