If you find yourself being pulled in too many directions at work, it’s likely that you haven’t yet set your priorities straight.
Our time and energy often gets divided into any number of goals that seem of utter importance at the time. You’ve probably noticed that many times splitting your attention hardly got you any progress at all, even if you count ‘multitasking’ as one of your skills.
In the book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, Angela Duckworth shares a simple way to help you sort your work priorities – one that was originally suggested by Warren Buffett:
“First, you write down a list of twenty-five career goals.
Second, you do some soul-searching and circle the five highest-priority goals. Just five.
Third, you take a good hard look at the twenty goals you didn’t circle. These you avoid at all costs. They’re what distract you; they eat away time and energy, taking your eye from the goals that matter more.”
Angela was skeptical when she first heard this technique. “I thought, ‘Who could have as many as 25 different career goals? That’s kind of ridiculous, isn’t it?’ Then I started writing down on a piece of lined paper all of the projects I’m currently working on. When I got to line 32, I realized that I could benefit from this exercise.”
It sounds so simple that it’s hard to believe it can help, but go ahead and try it. You’ll be surprised at what you discover about yourself and at what you’re really aiming for.
Narrowing your priorities will undoubtedly help you focus. Remember that productivity can be just as much about what you don’t do, as being selective lets you progress faster on the things you really care about.