You should see my “To Do” list…
Currently, it runs 11 pages.
This is not a source of pride for me; it’s simply a picture of what my priorities are.
I don’t know how long your list is, but let me as you this…
How many things do you try to accomplish on a given day?
One of the things I’ve realized lately is that there’s a serious disconnect between what I think I can accomplish on a given day (given an 11 page long “To Do” list) and what I actually can accomplish. I used to wake up and be determined to make some serious dents in that list, but over and over again, I’d end up at the end of the day frustrated and discouraged, because the list just seemed to actually get longer not shorter. It was pretty demotivating.
I’ve been trying to re-frame my thinking about my daily productivity, based on something that I’m simply calling the “135 Principle.”
It’s based on the premise that in a given day, you can really only accomplish one really big goal, three medium-sized goals, and five small goals.
- The “1” could be that very significant, highly creative project you’re working on that needs the best of you over multiple hours. It’s the centerpiece of your day, the “mission” of that day.
- The “3” could stand for the thirty-minute standing conversation you need to have with a co-worker regarding an upcoming meeting or event. It could be the set of instructions you need to write up, or the recap conversation or email you need to craft.
- The “5” could represent phone calls or informational emails; things that are still proactive, but not necessarily time- or resource-intensive.
Sophisticated language, I know, but this was significant because I realized that I’d actually been operating in something like a 5-8-15 paradigm, and there simply is not enough time to do those things.
And when we “fail”, over and over again, to accomplish things, most of us stop referring to our lists, because we become subtly aware that they don’t mean anything. When you constantly feel like you are unable to accomplish your list, a trigger starts to go off in your brain to avoid it. It’s a drain; it’s a sign of failure.
What something like the “135 Principle” can do is to help you manage your expectations and complete your tasks on a given day, which can give you a minor sense of accomplishment and some motivation to get up and accomplish the next day’s tasks.
It’s about momentum.
NEXT WEEK: I’m starting a new series on Jesus (surprise!) Stay tuned!