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A practical exercise to get in control of your priorities

  • Do you feel like you are juggling too many balls in the air?
  • Are you on target with your goals?
  • How do you prioritize? 

Prioritizing is hard. I sometimes find myself with far too many goals competing for my attention. Some of these are professional targets such as completing certain projects, finishing a report on a topic, progressing in my career, developing myself and getting ready for the next opportunity. Then I also have personal goals like working down my reading backlog, organizing a special holiday, achieving sports targets that require serious preparation, goals related to my hobbies or things that I need to get done at home such as fixing something in the house or finding a craftsman who will.

I find this simple exercise very helpful. It helps me rank my priorities and to develop strategies to best achieve success.

To get the most out of this article, I recommend you follow along. Grab 8 post-its and an empty sheet of paper (A4 or letter size is a good choice).

Step 1

Take the 8 post-its and write a letter in the top left corner of each, A through H. We’ll use these letters as reference.

Step 2

Write 8 of your goals on the post-its, one on each.

Step 3

Write a number between 0 and 7 in the top right corner of each goal, representing your progress with them. Write O if you have not yet started, 7 if you have almost achieved the goal.

Step 4

Take goals E&F and place a tally mark on the one that is more important. Continue doing the same for the rest of your goals in the following order:

C& F& B& B&H
G&H D&H F&G B&E
C&H A&B A&H D&E
A&C B&G D&F A&E
A&D C&E C&D A&F
E&H B&F E&G C&F
B&D A&G D&G

Step 5

Count the tally marks on each note and write the result using Roman numerals in the bottom right corner of each goal.


1:I, 2:II, 3:III, 4:IV, 5:V, 6:VI, 7:VII

Step 6

Sketch a ranking matrix based on the example below. Then place your goals on the matrix according to the numbers in the top right and bottom right corner of your post-its.




Step 7

Reflect on your goals!

Here are some questions and ideas to get you started:

  • Can you drop any of your Non-Critical and Non-Energizing goals? If yes, get rid of them to improve your focus.
  • Create a positive momentum by building success on success. Consider completing your Energizing Goals first.
  • If you must do the Non-Energizing goals, schedule time to deal with them.
  • Start your days with your Real Goals.
  • Put this sheet away, for review in a year’s time.
Priorities matrix

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