Simplifying my Goals Using “The Rule of 3”

I just purchased a new time management book titled “Getting Results the Agile Way” by J.D. Meier.  Like many people who have written reviews for the book, I find “the rule of 3” to be helpful.  Although I admit that at first I didn’t.  I’ve tried making “top 3” and “top 5” lists before and have always been frustrated by them.  Usually I have way more than 3 or 5 things to do, and they all feel equally important, so it’s difficult to say upfront which 3 or 5 are the most important.

But this author’s recommendation is to think about the top 3 results you want by the end of the day, and he points out that there may could be many (or few) tasks to do that lead to those results.  He also says there are many other things a person would probably do in addition to working on the 3, but the point is to add focus and clarity to the day.  So this way of thinking changes the idea it a bit in my mind, and I’ve been trying it out.

The “rule of 3” applies to each day, week, month, and even year – so when I read this, I thought of my five goals for the year.  When I set them, I actually thought it was too many, but since I didn’t know what to eliminate, I kept all five.  But I continue to feel like it is a lot to think about, so I decided to eliminate two.  It was a difficult decision, but I went with my gut and eliminated “declutter my home and get organized,” and “be of good cheer more.”  Not that I can’t work on these things; I can.  But I think I will be better off focusing for now on the other three.  So now my goals look like this {notice that I also simplified the definitions by naming 3 main points to focus on for each!}:

1.  Take better care of my health.

  • Sleep right
  • Exercise regularly
  • Proper diet (including drinking enough water)

2.  Manage my time better

  • Procrastinate less
  • Be a little more organized in my approach to my work
  • Feel less overall stress about my work

3.  Listen to my family better.

  • Look at people when they are talking to me (as much as possible).
  • Try to understand and be respectful of their point of view (even if I don’t agree).
  • Answer them promptly when they ask a question.

I’m glad that I took the time to describe everything that I want to do in detail a few weeks ago.  It provided clarity that I wouldn’t have any other way.  But after writing that post I became somewhat overwhelmed by it all, and that is why I am equally glad to be able to simplify them!

I love Meier’s analogy of the buffet.  He says, “It’s all too easy to bite off more than you can chew.  Instead, first nail the three items you want to accomplish, and then bite off more.  Think of it as a buffet of results and you can keep going back – just don’t overflow your plate on each trip” (pg 32).

What strategies do you use in your work to keep from “biting off more than you can chew?”


7 thoughts on “Simplifying my Goals Using “The Rule of 3”

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