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Priority setting mastery: 5 Proven strategies for CEOs and leaders

Updated: Dec 19, 2023


As a leader or CEO, you may find yourself overwhelmed by your task list, struggling to determine the right things to prioritise and the best order to tackle them.


With these five tips, you can better prioritise your workload and increase your productivity:


1. Cut

Revisit where you wasted time last week.

Pinpoint thought patterns behind it.

Examples: worry, ruminating, micromanaging, etc.


Check where such patterns can creep in and waste time this week.

Commit to cutting such activities.


Take practical steps, such as cancelling a meeting or unsubscribing from a list, to ensure that you follow through on your commitment.


2. Define themes

Choose three main themes for the week:


a) Business theme. E.g. "Increase sales."

b) Self-development theme. E.g. "Trusting life."

c) Personal theme. E.g. "Sailing."


The self-development theme serves as a reminder that you are the driving force behind your business's success and that personal growth is essential for achieving your goals.



3. Pick 3x3 tasks

For each theme, choose up to 3 tasks.


They should be aligned with the projects in your year/quarter plan (I'm not elaborating on this further as it's a separate topic).


Whatever happens this week, you have an ironclad agreement with yourself to execute those.


Everything else will be your priority two.


Use a tool like Asana to keep your short week's task list. Everything else goes to trash or backlog.



4. Make a template

To make choosing easier, define your personal role description with 2 sections: Yes and No. Use this as a template for prioritising your activities. Do more of the Yes list and less of the No list.


Example


Yes:

  • Create according to my purpose - content, product update vision, keynotes;

  • Lead - communicate purpose, vision, values, goals, and strategy, lead all-hands meetings;

  • Support - 1:1 mentoring sessions with subordinates;

  • Develop - delegate, optimise, hire, fundraise, improve business model, initiate key partnerships, support key account sales;

  • Grow - read, explore, meditate, think, talk with a mentor;

  • Rest and recharge - sports, walking, piano;

  • Connect - true connection time with other people, including your clients.


No:

  • Administration - admin tasks, finance controlling;

  • Decorating the cheese - marginal improvements in all areas;

  • Waste - 2/3 of slack conversations, micromanaging, news portals, criticising, worrying, reacting.


Always your priority as a leader is to support your team to do their work, starting with your direct subordinates. Not to control or pamper them but to support them. When choosing between a solo task and a task that allows others to do their work - choose the one that impacts others.



5. Envision personal future

Consider your long-term personal goals when making your weekly priority choices.


What is your vision? Do you want to eventually step back and let others handle day-to-day operations while keeping communicating the purpose and vision, inspiring your team and building company culture?


Or do you see yourself continuing to play an active day-to-day management role in the company's success?


This will impact your decision-making and your approach to developing and hiring team members.




By following these tips, you can prioritise your tasks more effectively, increase your productivity, and achieve your goals as a leader or CEO.



What are your own tips for prioritising tasks? Share them with us, or ask any questions if you're facing challenges in this area.


 

Farhad Niyoz is the CEO of Cocoon. Let's talk



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