What are your current top priorities? If you have multiple, can you narrow them down? Below is a simple system on how to get your priorities straight.
Focus is the key to execution. It’s a simple system. And it works. It goes like this:
- Get a pack of notecards (or use an online solution like Evernote)
- Write down the three goals most important to you (one immediate, one short term and one long term goal)
- Make your goals clear and concise – use action verbs and be specific
- Once you complete something, update/redo your priority card
For example, today mine are:
- Immediate: Finish, review, review and publish this blog post
- This week: Update my resume for the positions I want to target
- Long term: Help save the Siberian tiger from extinction in the wild
That’s it. I will have a new immediate priority as soon as I finish this post, and will update my (digital) priority card accordingly.
By doing this, you help yourself focus and concentrate. If you ever find yourself bored or wondering what you should do, just look back at your list of priorities and start from there. If you decide that something is actually more important than what’s written down, update the list.
Even if it feels like you have a “million” things to do, narrow them down to just three at a time. One thing will always be important. It could be more meaningful, or it could lead to the most return for your work.
It’s good practice to update your priorities every night (before you go to bed), or right after you wake up. Don’t let day-to-day distractions take you off course. Make sure you keep your priority list with you at all times, so you can always check to confirm that you’re on the right path.
Even if you don’t consider yourself someone that plans things in advance, set aside two minutes and give this a try. You may find that the very act of writing your priorities down will put you in a more productive mood, making you more likely to achieve them. Visualize yourself completing your written goals.
“If you have more than three priorities, you have none.” – Jim Collins
Be honest with yourself. You don’t have to share this with other people – everyone has their own idea of what’s important in life and what is worth spending time and effort on. As a whole, society has certain ideas for what’s “acceptable” and what isn’t. Ignore all this.
Decide what you want to achieve, write it down and internalize it.
Less bustle, more focus
Has this system (or any other) worked for you? Share your opinions in the comments section below!