Getting Things Done: 10 Steps to Ruthless Priorities

Getting Things Done: 10 Steps to Ruthless Priorities

I don't need to tell you that having priorities is a key indicator of success. I also don't need to tell you that without direction and purpose, we're destined to wander aimlessly.

You already know those things.

But what you might not know, or at least might not be clear on, is how to create your priorities.

To help with that, I want to share with you ten things you and I can do to define what Patty Azzarello calls, “ruthless priorities.”

Patty Azzarello Rise

Whenever I worked in corporate America I probably stuck out a little.

I didn't always go with the flow and I questioned everything. I always wanted to know WHY we were doing something instead of blindly following orders.

And when it came to completing tasks, performing duties and effective delegation, I'd gotten pretty good.

By doing the things that I write about here on my blog, I had figured out what I was good at, what I was great at, and what I should be delegating to someone else so I could leverage their expertise.

I had learned to layout my day with purpose, minimize distractions, and define my priorities. Doing those things earned me Sales Rep of the Year in 2011 and Sales Rep of the Quarter in 2013.

I'm not sharing these things to brag. (Maybe a little)

I mention them because even I, with the same amount of time and teaching as everyone else, was able to prioritize what needed to be done and focus on the right things so I could be one of the most successful people in my department.

So, when I came across the section “Ten Steps to Ruthless Priorities” in the book Rise by Patty Azzarello (affiliate), I knew I had to share them with you.

10 Steps to Ruthless Priorities

1: Identify what matters most to the business.

Know what your boss and the company value. If it's a growth year, focus on growth. If it's a retention year, focus on retention. By knowing how the business works, and what the business is focused on, you can meet and deliver on expectations.

If you're an entrepreneur, you also need to know what will make you money.

For example, my needs are additional people to coach and an increase in product sales both here and at

2: Choose your Ruthless Priorities.

You can't do it all so stop trying. By trying to do everything, you're diluting your mental and physical energies to the point of uselessness.

Focus on a few things you can do well, prioritize those activities, and either delegate or delay.

I laughed out loud when I read Patty's words, “Nothing ever offers itself as a lower priority.” That's so true right? Everything seems like a fire to be put out, so with a little planning, you can really stand out from the crowd by keeping your calm and approaching every day with purpose.

Patty's tip to identify the critical from the important:

Ask, “How bad is it if we fail?”

3: Focus on what you ARE doing, not on what you are NOT doing.

Tell your boss, your spouse, or your team about your priorities. They will let you know if you're way outta line.

By sharing your priorities, you're also allowing your team to keep you accountable.

Another tip:

Review your thought process with the people I just mentioned. That will set you up for tip #4 and show people you've put intentional effort into planning your priorities.

4: Ratify your Ruthless Priorities with your boss.

Bosses have the power to shut down your priorities. If your top initiatives aren't in line with the goals of the company, your boss should redirect you.

The same thing goes for us entrepreneurs. I share my goals and priorities with my wife and she helps me make tweaks and adjustments where necessary.

Side note:

This is also a great time to see what your boss' priorities are and help him or her achieve them. Making the boss look good is usually a good thing.

5: Assign less than 100 percent of your time.

This is a big one for a lot of the people I coach. High achievers tend to pack things into the agenda and try to get it all done.

The truly successful, however, focus on eliminating as much as they focus on adding.

If you're assigning 100% of your time during the day, there's no room for error, no room for spontaneity, and no room to adjust.

You're setting yourself up for disaster if you don't give yourself some breathing room. Here are 4 other things I'd recommend you stop doing.

6: Resist or negotiate away pressures that put Priorities at risk.

If you're tempted to work on everything because it feels less risky, just realize that you will remain unremarkable because you have not given yourself the opportunity to really excel on something that has a big impact on the business.”

‘Nuff said.

7: Overcommunicate.

Whether regarding goals, deadlines, struggles or successes, communication is key.

As the saying goes, tell'em what you're going to tell'em, tell'em, then tell'em what you told'em.

8: Create a new social norm.

I can say with 100% certainty that we are the average of who we surround ourselves with. Whether it's the 5 people we hang out with the most, or the 6, or 7 people, I don't know, but it's a crazy truth about human nature.

That's why getting a coach is so crucial, they alter our average in a positive way.

Creating a priority-focused environment is necessary to keep everyone on the same page. If the new social norm is a priority-focused environment, the more likely you, and everyone else, will stick with it.

9: Get them done. Finish things!

As you know, DWYSYWD is a big deal for me. Doing What You Said You Would Do is one of the ways I evaluate who I give my time to. I suspect, as a rock star yourself, you're already doing something similar.

If you're trying to do everything, you're probably not finishing anything. If you're not finishing anything, your credibility will plummet.

Getting things done is a huge self-motivator. It's also a fantastic way to show your team you mean business and lead the way.

10: Recognize and celebrate.

When my mom earned her Ph.D., we went to celebrate at Outback Steakhouse. She ordered a sirloin with a side of prime rib. That was probably 15 years ago and I still remember the celebration of her achievement.

When my wife finished her echocardiography certification a few years ago, we celebrated that also. We might have even gone to out for steak then too. I'm seeing a pattern…

Anyway, celebrate with your team. If you have a big win, be happy!

But for Pete's sake, don't put your achievers down the day after the big win. If you've developed the “what have you done for me lately” mindset, STOP IT! You're not only killing morale but you're destroying any hope that your high achievers will stay loyal to you.

Lastly, if you're a leader, give away more credit than you take in; it will help you in the long run. Keep a list of priorities and stick to it. Put one foot in front of the other and march toward your goal as if your life depended on it!

Question: What are some of your Ruthless Priorities? How do you keep them in focus?


Check out Patty's Preview of her book Rise:

Read Rise with me! Get the book here.


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