Priority Principles- Turning “Busy” into “Productive”

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Throw a group of leaders into a room and listen for the predictable rhythms of the introductions.

“How are things going?”

“Oh man, I’m so busy. How about with you?”

“Wow, incredibly busy.”

While “I’m so busy” has replaced “I’m fine, thank you” as our culture’s leadership greeting, here’s a dose of reality.

Everyone is busy.


The key distinctive of effective leadership, of course, is not found in “busyness”, but rather in productivity.

Effective leaders know that the “secret sauce” that turns busyness into productivity is found in Priority Principles. It means being able to look at what appears to be a random, disorganized mess of tasks strewn about in no particular order and making sense of them.

What are these Priority Principles? Here’s what I’ve learned from the most effective leaders…

Focus on the important, not just the urgent

As I’ve written earlier, Stephen Covey nailed this concept with his “4 quadrants” of time management. Establishing priorities requires a ruthless focus on those things which are important (that is, they matter towards your goals), not merely urgent (that is, there’s a tight timeline attached).

Organize first, attack second.

Action-oriented leaders want to dive in to the biggest crisis facing them immediately.

But effectiveness if found in first creating a game plan. It’s taking all of those demands vying for your attention and sorting them into an organized plan of attack.

Swat the distractions aside

Once the gun goes off to start the day, countless new distractions will suddenly emerge to vie for your attention. These will emerge like buzzing mosquitoes that must be swatted aside.

The people who bring you these distractions must be treated with respect, but you must remain resolute on executing on priorities.

Leaders who master these Priority Principles:

  • Have a determined cadence to their leadership, not a frantic randomness

  • Have a clear sense of focus, not a disjointed sense of panic,

  • Have a finish line of accomplishment, not simply activity.

Take a page from these leaders and incorporate these Priority Principles into your own leadership.

And the next time you’re greeted with “How are you?” you might well respond not with, “I’m so busy” but with “I’m so productive.”




the author

Scott Cochrane

Vice President- International, Global Leadership Network. Love Jesus, Nora, Adam & Robin, Amy, Dave, Willow & Olive and John, Fiona & Will. Lifelong learner.

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