Instead of a to-do list, you need a success list — a list that is purposefully created around extraordinary results. A to-do list becomes a success list when you apply Pareto’s Principle to it.
Does it seem like every day you and your team have more and more that “simply must get done”? Do you often feel overbooked, overextended, overcommitted, and “in the weeds”? Do you (or your direct reports) feel like a human pinball, bouncing from task to task throughout the day, hoping to check as many things as possible off your to-do list — but later realizing you didn’t actually accomplish anything that truly matters?
To-do lists (whether in our head, on paper, or in an electronic system) can help collect our best intentions, but they also tyrannize us with trivial, unimportant stuff that we feel obligated to get done. If allowed, a to-do list or inbox can dictate our priorities — keeping us busy but not letting us achieve real success for ourselves and our organization.
Activity is not related to productivity or success — and certainly not to extraordinary results. So how do you decide what to do, or what to do first?
Successful people have an eye for the essential. They:
- Pause long enough to decide what matters.
- Do sooner what others plan to do later.
- Defer to later (or indefinitely) what others do sooner.
- Work from a clear sense of priority.
In this episode, Jesse shares what he’s learned from chapter 4 of the book The ONE Thing and provides examples of applying the lessons. His personal tips include:
- Success list: At the end of each day, selecting and writing down the ONE Thing you will do tomorrow that will make it a successful day for you; any other to-dos are relegated to a different list and generally not worked on until the ONE Thing is done.
- Cerato or Scleranthus: Gentle herbs in the family of Bach remedies; these two options can help your mind be more clear and decisive about setting priorities. They are inexpensive and available many places online or in many health food stores.
- Decision points: As discussed in episode 165, these are moments in your day when you have the opportunity to decide what to work on next, based on your priorities, your energy, and the amount of available time.
- Mindfulness meditation and prayer: Helps you become more aware of what really matters in your work and personal life; helps improve your focus and resistance to distractions throughout the day; helps you make the most of each moment for maximum effectiveness, satisfaction, and fulfillment.
- Pareto’s Principle, also known as 80/20 Rule: Apply this lens to your to-do list to identify the few things that matter more than the rest. Then with your shorter list, apply it again, and again, until you identify the essential, imperative ONE Thing that matters the most.
Resources Mentioned in This Episode
- Book: The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results by Gary Keller
- Podcast episode 164 — The ONE Thing to Do This Week for Extraordinary Results
- Podcast episode 165 — Using the Domino Effect for Extraordinary Results
- Podcast episode 168 — Singleness of Purpose
- Podcast episode 111 — Getting Things Done (GTD) for Leaders with David Allen
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