We all have obsessions. One of mine has always been finding the latest and greatest productivity tools. 

This year, in particular, I’ve been on a mission to find game-changing productivity solutions. Why? Between finishing up the MBA degree (I’m scheduled to graduate from Boston University Questrom Business School in January 2025—woo-hoo!), managing a rapidly growing business, and, well… having a life, I often think about how to optimize my time to accomplish more of the things that matter to me the most. 

This is why I was thrilled to come across the book Uptime: A Practical Guide to Personal Productivity and Wellbeing by Laura Mae Martin, Google’s productivity coach. The book is packed with concrete, practical tips. It’s a fantastic read! I highly recommend it. 

Reading this book inspired me to start this productivity series. Over the next few weeks, I will share tips and strategies that made the biggest impact in my quest for ultimate productivity and peak performance, including from the Uptime book, other resources, and my 20+ years of professional experience. 

We are kicking things off with:

The Top Three Priorities 

In her book, the very first strategy Martin recommends is to identify your top three priorities right now. She explains: 

“You’ll likely have more than three responsibilities or priorities in your life at any given time, but figuring out your “top three” helps drive your focus.”

Often when we coach our clients, the topic of time management and productivity comes up. But the truth is effective time management is not about “finding more time,” it’s about prioritizing the time we have so we can accomplish more of the things that matter to us.  

The prioritization idea itself is not new. We’ve been using prioritization techniques at LeadWise with our coaching clients for years. For example, we use the OKRs framework for strategic planning, which requires identifying the top 3-5 annual Objectives and the corresponding Key Results. 

Another great book dedicated to this idea is The 12 Week Year: Get More Done in 12 Weeks than Others Do in 12 Months by Brian Moran and Michael Lennington. In essence, the authors advocate to plan and execute in 12-week increments (basically, on a quarterly basis). While the idea of quarterly planning is not unique (this is what most organizations do), the book is packed with concrete and practical ideas on how to go beyond planning and execute quickly and effectively. 

After all, it’s all about execution! That’s why I like Martin’s recommendation to consistently set and use the top three priorities, including at the micro level (on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis), and not just for macro, long-term planning.

Using the jar analogy (oldie but goodie!), Martin emphasizes: “Other priorities and activities that aren’t your top three will fall into place. But if you want to fill a jar with rocks, pebbles, and sand, you have to put the biggest rocks in first. Trying to put the rocks in the jar when it is already full of pebbles and sand (less important, lower-priority things) will cause the jar to overflow even though there is unused space.” 

Priorities ≠ Tasks

It’s important to emphasize one crucial mistake that we see many people make – confusing priorities with tasks. Priorities (or objectives) are not the same as tasks. This is an important distinction. 

Priorities are directional and aspirational; they can, at times, feel vague. Priorities are to be achieved. 

Tasks are specific, action-oriented activities. Tasks are to be completed. 

In other words, we complete the tasks to achieve priorities/objectives. For each priority or objective, we can have several tasks. For example:



Strengthen client relationships
  • Lead by-weekly one-on-one check-ins with key clients to discuss their goals and address any concerns
  • Host a client appreciation event
  • Request feedback from clients on a quarterly basis
Improve the work delegation process
  • Develop a system for tracking progress and outcomes
  • Identify a project management software to help stay organized
  • Meet with the assistant to discuss the work delegation process and get their input
Spend more time outdoors
  • Work outdoors (patio/backyard) a few hours a day
  • Go for a weekly outdoor walk/run
  • Plan a hiking trip this month

So, what are your top three priorities for this quarter? This month? This week? Today? 

Reality Check

Once you have your three top priorities, do a reality check to see how you are spending your time and whether it’s in line with your most important priorities. Martin recommends doing a calendar review to see how you’ve spent your time over the last month. You can also review your task lists. Or spend a few days keeping track of everything you are doing and the times it takes you to do it. You can use a time-tracking app to help you, or just enter timely manually in a document or a notepad. 

The goal is not to make you feel bad. The goal is to enlighten you, to create self-awareness, and to help you see how you can use your time more productively. 

Onwards and upwards!

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