We all have 24 hrs in a day to spread between different segments of life – job, time with a family, studies, relaxation and personal time, etc. Actually we have less than 24 hrs, as we also need to sleep for 6-8 hrs, don’t we? 🙂

And we need to balance all of these segments. Since we have a limited number of hours, the only way is to squeeze everything we have planned into these 24 hrs, so we need to do things more efficiently, faster, smarter, right? Wrong! 🙂

Remember the budgeting approach – there will always be more things to spend your time on, than the time you have on your hands. The key to success in life and at work is NOT to get all the things on your to-do list done, but to get the MOST IMPORTANT and MOST MEANINGFUL things done. Yes, I will say it one more time – you do not have to get all the things on your to-do list done, ever!

The key – Focus on the most important

In his famous book, The Effective Executive, Peter F. Drucker gives five vital principles of effectiveness. One of his most important points is this:

“Concentrate on the few things that will produce the greatest results. Force yourself to set priorities. Do first things first – and second things not at all.”

What are the “first things” in your life?

Each of us has a different list of these truly important things in our lives, but I’ve witnessed some things that different people around the world have in common as priorities. Usually family, kids, God, relationships, fulfilling dreams, changing the world around them, leaving behind a legacy (or as Steve Jobs put it, “leaving your mark on the universe”) are among them. Job and career are usually not at the top of the list.

Understand me right, we all need to work and produce value for ourselves and others, but here I mean that the things that are important to us will determine where we put most of our time and efforts. There needs to be a balance.

Self-test:

  • what are the things you would spend your time on if you had 100 million dollars and 2 years to live?
  • what do you want to be known for after you die?
  • what do you want to leave behind?

These kinds of questions will guide your mind and heart to discover what is truly important for you. And they lay the basis for the criteria to determine how to spend your time – what should go on the calendar first.

What are the “first things” at work?

At work, whether you run your own company or work for someone else, the same principle applies. Only a few things will get you closer to the goal at any given point in time. Not every project is equally important, not every meeting is equally important, and not every task needs to be completed. Remember this the next time you’re overwhelmed with all kinds of different tasks, projects and pressing deadlines.

I am not asking you to act irresponsibly and cancel everything. 🙂 I am just saying, that any particular activity should either contribute to producing the greatest results or it should not be seriously considered.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • why we do what we do (be it business, team, project, etc.)? What is the purpose?
  • where we want to be in 3-5 years?
  • what are 2-3 main goals that I need to primarily focus on in the next 3-12 months?
  • for each goal, what are the TOP 3 activities I need to focus on weekly?

“Concentrate on the few things that will produce the greatest results. Force yourself to set priorities. Do first things first – and second things not at all.”

In each business these are the most vital questions that determine where the business is heading and what is most important. Thus, whether you’re a CEO or employee, the answers to these questions will provide you the criteria to determine what you will do daily and weekly.

If you’re an employee and you don’t know the answers to these questions – ask your CEO or team leader, or answer them for yourself. We all need to have a sense of direction and the criteria to determine how to spend our time. This comes from defining what is most important in the first place.

The most important things will determine where we put most of our time and efforts.

Once you have identified the most important goals and activities, plan them into your week first, then plan other things around them.

Don’t worry, there is no “right” way to do it that will make it perfect. 🙂 The main thing is that you get started on your journey to being effective, and each day will bring positive results, I promise you.

 

You might also like these posts:

How To Effectively Plan Your Time – “Budgeting” Approach

The Eisenhower Matrix: How to be More Productive at Work

Get a FREE 7-Day Course

A FREE 7-day email course "Simplify Your Workday in 7 Days" will help you to get the most important things done at work with less stress and fewer hours. Sign up and instantly get the first lesson to your inbox.

No spam. Unsubscribe any time Powered by ConvertKit