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Increase Productivity: How to Set Priorities Using Roles

Recent posts have shared basic concepts for priority setting, including prioritizing your big rocks, using ABC prioritization, and eating that frog first. We also discussed beginning with first things first – ensuring your purpose, values, and goals are included as big rocks. Now we look at combining these concepts with priority setting using roles.

Work-Life Balance Using Roles

Planning and prioritizing your week can be challenging, even when you are focused on your big rocks. Many years ago, I began the practice of identifying the key roles I hold in my life and my key priorities for growth in each role. This concept, introduced to me in Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, ensures you balance your personal and professional life.

The roles I currently prioritize and balance in my weekly schedule are:

  • Personal (mental and physical health, personal improvement, and learning)
  • Husband/Dad (family relationships)
  • Relative/Friend (family and social relationships)
  • Homeowner (projects and responsibilities related to the family and home)
  • Volunteer (actions for causes I am supporting)
  • Business owner (tasks and responsibilities for my business)
  • Employer (tasks and responsibilities for my employees and partners)
  • Project Manager (tasks for projects, separated by project or client)

Priority Setting Using Roles

Once your roles (and key projects) are identified you should identify the 1-3 items to get done that will help you make progress in that role. Below are some example priorities you might add to your weekly schedule for each of your key roles.

meditation and yoga - priority setting using roles


  • Exercising Plan
  • Time for Planning and Prioritizing
  • Meditation and Stretching
  • Reading, learning, growth
date night - priority setting using roles


  • Planning a date night
  • Scheduling vacation/time away together
  • One action that would make your partner very happy
gifting parent - priority setting using roles


  • Schedule time to talk on the phone
  • Plan for a visit together
  • Gift for an upcoming birthday/holiday
inviting friend for dinner - priority setting using roles


  • Send an invitation to come over for dinner
  • Partner to train together for a future event


  • Clean the garage
  • Take the car for an oil change
  • Repair the leaking faucet


  • Attend the fundraising event
  • Join the church choir
  • Attend the board meeting
meeting with co-worker

Employee/Project Manager

  • Complete a status update for Project A
  • Complete the work on Project B
  • Make a project plan for Project C
  • Schedule the meeting with your co-worker
  • Meet with the new client
  • Follow-up with your top customer

Look for Two-Way Wins

When planning your week, seek opportunities for two-way or three-way wins – actions that will support progress and growth in multiple roles. A few examples of these include:

  • A weekend hike with your children
  • Attending a business conference with your partner or spouse
  • Training for a 5K run with some great friends
  • Volunteering to join a board of directors consisting of potential clients
  • Completing a home improvement project with my son (honing my kill of patience as well!)
  • A golf or ski outing with business associates
  • Volunteering for an organization that involves working with good friends

Getting Started with Priority Setting Using Roles

Beginning a new habit is tough.

Take a few minutes now to identify the key roles in your life. Try to prioritize them based on your purpose and core values. For example, a new parent may prioritize being a father, mother, or partner above everything else. Someone starting a new job might prioritize that role. Just moved into a new house? The role of the homeowner may be a priority until you learn the systems and make necessary changes and repairs. Feeling sick or injured? Prioritize getting healthy.

Prioritizing your current “top role” will help you at least prioritize making progress in that area of your life. Later you can expand to include more roles to ensure work-life balance.

Beginning this great new habit requires dedicated time every week. A great first step is to schedule a reminder (and alarm) in your phone to spend 15-20 minutes every Sunday morning (or evening, if that is better for you) increasing your productivity by priority setting using your roles.

Good luck, and ask questions in the comments below.

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