As a leader within your organization, you surely have great ideas for your company and its employees. But how exactly will you start turning these ideas into realities? Namely, what will you do first? How will you determine what’s most important? Where should you focus your efforts? Goal prioritization can help you answer these questions and follow through on all your objectives, no matter how small or big.

What is goal prioritization?

Goal prioritization is the process of identifying your objectives and organizing them based on their urgency, value, and importance. This process also requires you to appropriately allocate your resources, time, and effort where they’re needed the most. It’s basically a fancy term for what you might already be doing: Determining what to focus on first before moving on to other tasks.

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Why is goal prioritization important?

Goal prioritization is all about starting your day with what matters the most while still getting through everything on your plate. Think about it: Wouldn’t you want to put the most effort into the goals that could produce the greatest return on investment? Sure you do – and goal prioritization can help you identify these objectives and strategize how to complete them. 

It gets better: Goal prioritization often leads to less stress and better productivity. It can also improve your time management skills since it helps you divide your time among your goals.

How to prioritize your goals at work

Let’s say you’ve already set your goals and determined everything you’ll need to complete them. All the parts are in place, so isn’t ranking your goals just an extra step? Not at all! If anything, goal prioritization is a key piece of the productivity puzzle. Below are a few steps that seamlessly integrate goal prioritization into what you’re already doing. This way, identifying important tasks and setting daily priorities can take up barely any time on your schedule.

1 Identify a few goals.

To give yourself a clear picture of what you want to accomplish, try identifying some goals you’d like your company or team to achieve. These objectives can be a combination of long-term goals that you work on for the next year (or few years). They can also include short-term goals that span just a few weeks or months. Either way, write them down! Having them on paper makes them way easier to reference as you create action plans and present them to your teams.

2 Break down each goal. 

Once you’ve identified your goals, you should make a list of the highly specific tasks comprising them. This way, you’ll have a good idea of what work, and just how much work, you’ll need to put into accomplishing your objectives. You’ll also get an overview of how long each task might take. You can then prioritize tasks based on when (or, if recurring, how often) they must be completed.

3 Measure your progress. 

As you work toward your goals, you should always track progress. This way, you can clearly understand where you are in the process now – and look back on everything later to better plan future work. If you’re clearly behind on your current goals, you can drop the goals or tasks that fall lower on your list. Don’t feel guilty – you’re putting your best work into what matters the most.

4 Keep yourself accountable. 

Defining and prioritizing your goals is an important step, but it’s only half the battle. Once you get to work, you’ll need to remain focused, diligent, and determined so you don’t accidentally drop the ball. Creating a schedule and detailed to-do lists can help you stay accountable here. You can also ask your leadership team to check in with you periodically to keep you on track.

5 Cut out distractions. 

Sure, you might not think twice about checking your phone during work, but even tiny glances take time away from your tasks. Even meetings can be distractions, so cancel any meetings that don’t serve a clear, strong purpose. If you regularly hear “this meeting could’ve been an email,” you’re likely having too many meetings. Drop some in favor of directly working on your goals.

3 methods to help you prioritize your goals

Congrats – now you know how to create a list of prioritized goals and work your way through it all! To help you go even further, here are three methods to help you maximize your goal prioritization and create a sharper, stronger list.

1 Bubble prioritization

Imagine a glass of soda. Imagine pouring yourself a glass of soda. As the liquid pours into the glass, tiny bubbles rise to the top. In this example, all the soda in the glass represents your goals. The bubbles at the top are your priorities.

Bubble prioritization starts with creating a list of goals. Then, you’ll compare the first goal on your list to the second one and decide which one is more of a priority. From there, you’ll move on to the third goal and compare it to the one you just prioritized. Once you work your way down the list, the goal you’re left with at the end becomes your top priority.

You can then repeat the process with the rest of your goals, excluding the one you just determined as your priority. This method can be useful if all your goals seem equally important and you’re having trouble figuring out where to start. With this method, you’re comparing the goals to each other instead of trying to rank them from a top-down view.

2 Quadrant prioritizing

Quadrant prioritizing helps you categorize your goals based on their levels of urgency and importance. Use it if you need an overview of your goals and a better idea of which ones should be your top priorities.

Urgent goals require completion as soon as possible – if you don’t finish them in time, they might become impossible. They’re often goals you must complete in a rush while managing elevated stress levels, and they’re often unexpected. Important goals, on the other hand, are objectives that directly contribute to your company’s future well beyond today. Rather than fires to put out now, these goals start slowly today and may lead to success in the long run.

To create a quadrant diagram, draw a square, and divide that square into four quadrants. Label the bottom two “not important” and the top two “important.” Label the left side “urgent” and the right side “not urgent.” From there, you can place each of your goals into the quadrant that best fits them. 

3 Grid analysis prioritizing

A grid analysis lists your goals alongside the factors that comprise your company’s mission, values, and culture. It involves making a chart of your goals and these factors, which might include positive financial impact, long-term benefit, or employee engagement. On a scale of your choosing, you’ll give each of your goals a numerical score for each key factor.

One of your goals might be to reduce your company’s monthly budget. On a scale of 1 to 100, you might mark 90 in financial impact, 60 in long-term benefit, and 10 in employee engagement. A goal to host an annual employee appreciation event might score 30 in financial impact, 60 in long-term benefit, and 95 in employee engagement..

Once you’ve scored each goal, tally the total scores for each factor. You can then rank your goals from highest to lowest total scores. The result is a holistic, top-to-bottom view of how your goals might affect your organization. It’s also a heavily prioritized list.

Making the future a priority

Prioritizing your goals gives you a clear picture of where to focus your time, efforts, and resources. With the goal prioritization methods above, you can determine which goals come first and present your vision – and method – to anyone who asks.

Once everyone is on the same page, abiding by your list of priorities can lead to abundant successes both now and later. Fellow is here to help you plan productive meetings along the way and keep your team accountable. With Fellow, you can create collaborative meeting agendas, delegate tasks, and set meeting action items. If goal prioritization is about knowing where to start, Fellow is all about getting started – and keeping on going.