Prioritization 101

  • By Shawn Sommerkamp
  • 31 Mar, 2017

You have a lot on your plate.

People are constantly asking for your input or help. You have so many plates spinning that it’s hard to imagine how you can get it all done each week. It seems like it has become more of a choice on who you are going to disappoint instead of who you will delight.

The more responsibility you have in an organization, the more important it becomes to master prioritization.

Not only will you set priorities weekly and daily, but it may be important to reprioritize many times throughout the day or week. And this is much more than just creating a To Do List as discussed in previous posts. This is about crafting the To Do List priorities in a way that maximizes your effectiveness as a leader.

Having a simple strategy on how to put first things first can help alleviate stress and keep your promotability strong. Here is one method from Motivationeer™ that works. This would be the acronym REPS. It stands for Relationship, Effort, Profitability and Sustainability.

Think of each new task in terms of these four words to determine how high up the list it will go. If your task is high in each of these areas, it will probably be your first or second priority. If it scores high in only one category, it might sit toward the middle of your To Do List. And if it scores low in all categories, you can probably bump it to the bottom of your list.

Here is a quick overview of what each one means:


Sometimes you have an activity or action that will have a direct impact on an important relationship. It may be one of your biggest customers or a senior executive within your company. It may be a colleague that you have blown off for quite some time, and tension is growing. It may be a supporter of your own career growth. Whoever it is, consider how this action will affect your relationship.


Some actions are low hanging fruit. They take little effort but have a great impact. These activities are the ones you want to put toward the top of the list. If the activity holds high impact but will take much effort, you may want to start the project but not expect to get it done ahead of other actions.


The higher up the chain of command you go the more important certain numbers become. One of the most important is profitability. Think of your To Do List priorities in terms of their financial impact. This criterion might dovetail into Relationship too. If the action will have a high impact on profit (whether it is revenue or cost) consider keeping it toward the top of the list.


This is a bit tricky. The idea behind sustainability is not whether you can sustain the effort over time, but whether the effort will be repeated again by others in the future. If this action item is bound to be on other colleague’s lists in the future, make it a priority to accomplish the task well and document it. You can then share your work as a best practice and actually scale the savings.

Try out this methodology on your existing To Do List. See how the prioritization changes as you consider the four factors. And keep REPS handy. Put it in your calendar as a 15-minute timeslot in the morning, at lunch and at the end of the day and see how it impacts your overall wellbeing.

Shawn Sommerkamp is a motivational speaker and Executive Coach with 20+ years of Fortune 100 leadership experience.  He founded Motivationeer™ to coach Christian professionals how to use their career to glorify God and support local church growth.

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The Holidays are over. 

It can feel like we go from the ‘The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year’ to the most challenging time of the year. 

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