Start With Why – An in depth look at the Golden Circle – Part 3: Priorities

Start with Why

An In-Depth Look at the Golden Circle

Part 3: Prioritization


Ever had difficulty setting priorities and sticking to them? Do you sometimes feel like everything is a priority but aren’t sure how to divide your time? This is what we are going to dig into as we finish looking at Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle.

The Golden Circle contains three rings. The center of the ring was the WHY, which we talked about in this post. It ‘s our purpose or mission statement. The second ring, is about the HOW or strategies we employ to achieve our WHY. Now we’ve reached the outer ring—the WHAT, which refers to the actual tasks and actions we take that align with our strategy.

When our task list grows faster than we can cross things off, it can feel like a never-ending battle. And what if everything feels like it needs a red flag? How can we prioritize the things we need to do, complete them, and feel accomplished?

 Start with Why

How to Set Priorities

Organization Tools / Planners

Prioritizing a Company’s Projects

The Golden Circle 

How to Set Priorities

So how do we set priorities? What do we understand a priority to be? A priority is something that should be done before  everything else. But what if everything feels that way?

An interesting theory that helps us better understand how to determine what is a priority and what isn’t, is Covey’s Time Management Matrix. This matrix uses urgency and importance to create four quadrants.

  • Quadrant 1—Important and urgent: these are your ‘putting out fires’ type items
  • Quadrant 2—Urgent, but not important: where you want to spend most of your time
  • Quadrant 3—Important, but not urgent
  • Quadrant 4—Not urgent and not important

Covey explains that most of your time should be spent in Quadrant II—important and not urgent—because this is where you are planning, preparing, and preventing unwanted situations from occurring (Lebowitz, 2018).

 Using these quadrants are a great starting point for categorizing your task list. It gives a good picture of what should come first. Over time, knowing what needs your attention will become second nature.

To get a hold on your to-do list, try this exercise: take a piece of paper and write down everything you feel needs to get done; whether that is today, tomorrow, next week, or next month. This list could include things you want to do a few months from now and just don’t want to forget.

Next, take another sheet of paper and divide it into four quadrants. Then, transfer your long list onto the paper with the four quadrants one item at a time. Once complete, take a look at which quadrant is most heavily weighted.

How can it be more balanced?
How can you reduce Quadrant I and spend most of your time in Quadrant II?

Now that you know what your need-to-do’s are and you have a better idea of how to categorize a to-do item, let’s take a look at some tools available to organize this list.

Organization Tools / Planners 

We must start with a classic choice, a hand-held Day-Timer. Although it may seem old-fashioned or outdated, there is still something to be said for writing out lists. Some people are tactile learners and do much better at remembering things
when they write it down.

An interesting twist to the hand-held calendar is the Bullet Journal. If you haven’t heard of it, a Bullet Journal is a system that combines a journal, calendar, and task list using a blank journal. A legend of symbols and a self-created index is used to track anything you need.

If you are more digitally inclined, using something like Google Calendar is an option. It isn’t optimized well for task lists, but if you spend most of your life on-the-go, it can be great to allocate time to each task or project without needing to carry around a planner.

A tool that goes one step further—that can be used for individuals or teams—is Asana. Used individually, it can be used to categorize tasks into projects or themes and then pre-set deadlines. This allows for flexibility in sorting tasks by category or highest importance.

Prioritizing a Company’s Projects

The article ‘How to Prioritize your Company’s Projects’ identifies (link) how critical it is to not only identify a company’s (or your own) priorities, but to clearly communicate them throughout the organization. It suggests that “prioritizing
enhances the strategic dialogue and the alignment at the top of the organization”.

If it does that for organizations, what can clarifying our priorities do for our personal lives? What if we were never stuck in Quadrant I, always putting out fires? There would be a sense of relief and control over your, before, never-ending task list.

The Golden Circle

The power of Simon Sinek’s Golden circle begins with WHY. Knowing why we do something has the power to not only inform, but drive HOW we do things, and WHAT it is exactly that we do.

“Very few people or companies can clearly articulate WHY they do WHAT they do. By WHY I mean your purpose, cause or belief – WHY does your company exist? WHY do you get out of bed every morning? And WHY should anyone care?”

Simon Sinek (Start with Why: How
Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to
Take Action)

Lebowitz, S. (2018). A decades-old time-management strategy can help you become more productive and less stressed at work. Retrieved from:

The WHAT in Simon’s circle is the most challenging and the cause of why most people will give up on their dreams. They get over-whelmed at the amount of work that needs to be done and they quit. Using Covey’s Time Management Matrix works.

It gives you a clear picture of what needs to get done and what things don’t need to get done. When you’re just starting out it might seem pointless but trust me there’s always more stuff to do and using this matrix will keep everything going smoothly…for the most part 🙂

“People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. And what you do simply proves what you believe”― Simon Sinek

Why do you get out of bed in the morning? Whether it is a mantra for your personal or professional life, WHY do you do the things you do? HOW do you do those things? And WHAT things are you doing?

Share any thoughts or comments below. If you’re too shy to post feel free to message me on any of our social media profiles and I promise to get back to you. This is the end of our 3-Part series. We hope you enjoyed it. 

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