Rank Order Your Goals

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I’ve had a multi-decade debate with myself about solving one problem at a time or multi-tasking and trying to solve multiple problems concurrently.

After much internal debate, I’ve come to a conclusion that’s a slight hybrid of the two.

The hybrid approach presumes that you know your objectives.

It further presumes that your objectives are rank-ordered. (This is very important.)

So, your priority list should not look like this:

Priorities

  • Do this.
  • Do this other thing.
  • Do that other thing.

It should look like this:

Rank-Ordered Priorities

  1. Do this.
  2. Do this other thing.
  3. Do that other thing.

When you have rank-ordered priorities, I believe you should devote 100% of your resources in a day to achieving your #1 priority up until the point where no further progress can be made for the day.

For example, if you’re working on your #1 project at work, you should devote all of your energy to that project until you get to a point where you need to wait for someone else to do something before you can continue. You might need a client to sign off, need to get board approval, or need data from another department.

Then, and only then, work on your #2 priority until you reach a natural breakpoint for that work.

The same approach works for scheduling your week.

Look at your #1 priority (and there can only be one #1 priority).

Allocate your highest-productivity timeslots to your #1 priority as much as necessary until the point of diminishing returns.

Then, allocate time for your #2 priority as much as necessary to the point of diminishing returns. Then, do the same for the #3 priority.

The same is true for your personal life.

If your career is your #1 priority, your career should get the best hours of your day and week.

If your hobbies are your #1 priority, they should get the best hours of your day and week.

If your family is your #1 priority, they should get the best hours of your day and week.

If your fitness is your #1 priority, it should get the best hours of your day and week.

If you aren’t sure what your rank-ordered priorities are, it’s very simple. Look at where you spend your time.

Whatever you spend the best hours of your day and week doing – that has been your de facto #1 priority.

Now ask yourself, “Does my de facto #1 priority align with my intended #1 priority?”

If it does not, you have a major incongruence between your intentions versus your reality.

In business terms, you aren’t executing day-to-day against your strategic plan.

Either your plan is wrong or how you spend your time is wrong. Either way, it’s worth taking a closer look.

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