One: Who/what are the top 20 percent of people/things you want to connect with/achieve/love doing? Focus on these. The other 80 per cent can fit around them.
Two: Now and then, write a ‘stop-doing’ list – like a to-do list, but often much more effective, for example: stop agreeing to have parcels delivered when you know you’ll be out.
Three: Drop the ‘should’ monkey. When you hear yourself saying, ‘I should do this’, ask yourself whether you want to/really have to.
Four: Give as much thought to how you spend your down time as you do to planning work time. Because if you don’t, you end up surfing the web or watching TV – low-grade, low-value activities.
Five: Rather than wasting time and energy trying to decide what to do first, number your tasks, put the numbers in a hat and do whatever you pull out first.
Six: There are four quadrants to prioritisation: urgent and important, urgent but not important, not urgent but important, not urgent and not important. We can get rid of the last one, but ‘urgent but not important’ seems to dominate when we really need to make more time for ‘not urgent but important’. These are the things that never get a look-in, but are actually things that make us feel happier and fulfilled.
The Big Glass Jar
One of our favourite discoveries while planning for our new book, Real Focus was Mark Forster’s Big Glass Jar Theory:
- First, you picture a big glass jar and fill it with sand.
- You then try to add some big stones, but find that you can’t, because it’s filled with sand.
- Instead, add the stones first, before adding the sand.
- Now you’ll find that the sand fits itself around the stones.
- You should take this same approach to your tasks – you should look to do the important, big things first and you’ll find that the other stuff will fit around.