Behind the scenes: How I set priorities for each day.

A word of warning: This post is not about marketing per se. You may be able to apply the content to your marketing efforts (actually, I’d be thrilled if you did). In any case, I am just going to share a process that’s been working well for me, because I’ve had both clients and friends ask me about it. So, consider this a little behind-the-scenes and a detour into my mild obsession with productivity. Ladies and gentlemen, get ready for the priority map!

The big picture: My priorities for 2013.

At the beginning of the year, I identified four priority areas for 2013: income, professional growth, physical wellbeing, and community. I think four is a good number – enough to create some balance, not too many so you don’t spread yourself too thin.

If you’d like to follow along here, you can of course decide to choose only three, or add a bonus area. And you don’t have to wait until January 1 – maybe go with priorities for the fall, or until your next birthday, however you like to mark things/

The daily process: Priority map.

Before I shut down my laptop and head out for an evening walk, I create my priority map for the next day. It looks quite simple: I draw five boxes, one for each priority area and one for “Other.” Then I look at my tasks (I keep those in Highrise and on the monthly action planner from Productive Flourishing), and see which box each one falls into.

On an ideal day, I have one or two tasks in each priority area – on a crappy day, the “Other” box is overflowing. The visual helps me realize when I have veered too far off track and am not using my time well, for example when I see one of the boxes empty for more than a few days in a row. It signals to me when it’s time to get a run on the calendar or treat myself to a green juice, or maybe attend a seminar or listen to a podcast to cultivate my professional knowledge.

Bonus points!

When I’m on top of my game, I arrange the boxes on a timeline for the day so the area that requires the most focus and brain power is scheduled for the my most productive phase (for me that’s mid-morning), the run for that mid-afternoon hour (nothing brilliant is going to emerge from my brain during that time anyway), and the laundry in between tasks to create a small break before switching to the next project.

Time investing for a better future.

What I like about that routine is that it helps me remember that how I spend my time today very directly influences what my life will look like in the future. If I want to be surrounded and supported by a great community, I better invest my time in building and contributing to it now. If I want to become excellent at what I do, I better hone my skills and take time to learn and practice.

So, there’s the process. I have a couple more of those up my sleeve, so let me know if this is something you’re interested in and would like to see more of on my blog every now and then. If you have your own process you’d like to share, I’d be curious, too.

(Photo by Christopher Bulle on Flickr.)

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