How to Prioritize even Better… Think like March Madness

Like the Olympic Gold Medal, there can only be ONE Top Priority

Prioritizing can be extremely difficult for business owners because everything appears to be equally important.  We spend our days marketing, prospecting, selling, managing, writing, podcasting, and so much more.  At times, it feel like we’ll never catch up.

While all of that activity makes us busy, are we really productive?  Are we working on the RIGHT things that move our business forward? Business productivity experts, including me, advise our clients to focus on priorities and delegate (or delete) the other items which are just noise.

How do you know if you are prioritizing correctly?

When I speak to groups and coach my elite clients, I often help them prioritize since I provide the outside perspective. My simple formula involves asking just three questions:

  • ​   Does the activity MAKE you money?
  •    Does the activity SAVE you money?
  •    Does the activity SYSTEMIZE something in your company?   

If the activity doesn’t meet at least one of the above criteria, it’s not a priority.  Remove it from your list, or delegate it to someone else if it needs to get done.

This list of 3 questions is a great start.  However, I realized people were still stuck deciding what to do next after making their ‘short list’.  Today, I’m adding another step. 

March Madness Prioritization Tool

March Madness is the famous college basketball competition that occurs in March all over the United States. It’s a single-elimination tournament that features 68 teams vying to survive three weekends of games – and ultimately win the national title.  Millions of people attempt to pick the winner of each game, often betting at office pools, as the games progress.  In the end, only one team can be the winner, taking home the champion title.

To keep track of the winners of each game, a single elimination tournament bracket is used.  The bracket is read from left to right.  The team that wins each game advances to the right, and plays another game in the next bracket.  This continues until the final winner emerges on the far right.

You can follow this same format when plotting your priorities. First, get a blank tournament template at: Next, list your priorities on the far left bracket.  As you pit two activities against each other, determine which one is the higher priority.  That activity advances to the next round. Continuing choosing the higher priority through the brackets until your ONE top priority emerges as the champion. This whole exercise should only take a few minutes, yet it provides amazing clarity.

Like March Madness and the Olympics, there can only be one winning priority.  In his Forbes article, Kevin Kruse calls this the MIT: the most important task.  He states, “Put simply, the most important things are to know what to focus on and how you are going to get it done.” That describes your Top Priority.

When you feel like everything is a priority, just follow my March Madness strategy.  As you compare one task against another, you will eventually determine the most important priority. (Bonus – working backwards through the brackets from right to left, you can also identify the second most important priority, the third, etc.)

Please share how this prioritization technique is working in your business model by leaving a comment. I’d love to hear about your success!


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Nancy Gaines

Nancy Gaines is CEO/Founder of Gain Advantages Inc. and has been advising small businesses and Fortune 100 companies how to increase revenues through proven systems for almost two decades. She is a best-selling author and international keynote speaker. Nancy has been named in the Top 100 Productivity Experts to follow on Twitter and has a global podcast downloaded in over 95 countries. Her main focus is creating business processes with actionable steps so her clients achieve more consistency, ease, and ultimate success.