“If you don’t prioritize your life, someone else will” – Greg Mckeown

In the last year my team has had some great success in driving forward our projects and achieving objectives, but a few months ago we found that we were starting to become overwhelmed with the number of projects we were working on and talking about taking on in the future. Our success had created huge momentum, but instead of being able to ride the wave, we were at risk of being drowned by the avalanche.

We needed to reset and reprioritize what we were focusing on. What I didn’t realize was the road this would lead me down, and the absolute power that prioritization and focus can have both in work and all aspects of life. My first step was to look to the experts (as it always should be) who knew prioritization best. I read The Effective Executive by Peter Drucker who says;

“There is nothing quite so useless as doing with great efficiency something that should not be done at all.”

I read The One Thing by Gary Keller & Jay Papasan, who say

“Live with purpose, Live by priority, Live for productivity”

and I read Essentialism by Greg Mckeown, who says

“If you don’t prioritize your life, someone else will”

It was this last quote that really hit home to me, it was the 3 Ps of Purpose, Priority, Productivity that gave me a framework, and it was Peter Drucker’s quote that drove home the value. Below is my own action plan, adapted and borrowed from the above experts that I will carry forward with me throughout my career and life. Feel free to borrow it.

“If you don’t prioritize your life, someone else will” so, how do you prioritize?


1. Purpose. 

The first step is to define your purpose. This is done by asking this question, “What am I trying to contribute to the world?”. It’s a big question, and should not be rushed or overlooked, but defined with huge ambition and with great clarity.

2. Priority. 

Now that you have your purpose, you have to figure out what must be done to achieve it. The next question is “What is the one thing I can do that will create the highest impact?” Explore every project and initiative that will need to be done to achieve your purpose then analyze which is going to create the highest impact right now. Emphasis on the “I can do” part, there is no point picking a top priority you can’t do.

3. Productivity.

You have your purpose, and your top priority to achieve it, so where do you start? Ask yourself “What is the one thing I can do that will make the top priority easier?” Easier is a funny word and often I struggle with it, “should I really choose the “easy” route?” But in this context, asking what will make your top priority easier makes you analyze the barriers to executing your top priority and select which one to remove, clearing the way to success.

So here’s a simple example for a sports team.

1. Purpose. To produce a championship winning team for the fans.

2. Priority. Win more games.

3. Productivity: If we converted more of our scoring opportunities.

I now know that all my dedicated focus should go into implementing effective scoring practices for the team until we see improved results. It might seem obvious, but in the whirlwind of a losing season, or coming close to burning out at work, or simply feeling over committed, it can be hard to focus on what needs to be done and these simple steps can be life changing.  

The beauty of this system is you can go through the questions and apply them to your current work, your social life, your sports teams, whatever, and it will deliver a clear path of prioritized success. 

Try it right now with the context of your current workload. Remember, “If you don’t prioritize your life, someone else will” – Greg McKeown.