Your Short & Mighty List
Are You Satisfied with Your Progress?
Do you end most days feeling like you worked on the most important things, given what was put in front of you? How about that mental list you’ve been meaning to get to… are you satisfied with your progress there? For the second question, I’m talking about the kind of proactive steps that when taken, would definitely have a positive impact on your work and life overall. Interestingly, it’s possible that you could answer yes to the first question and no to the second. Daily life is an unpredictable mix of what just happens combined with what you cause to happen or initiate. On a day to day basis, you can be doing a fairly good job of managing what’s in front of you and yet still be dissatisfied with the results you’re getting overall.
Here is a simple yet often resisted way of sharpening your focus on those actions that will make a huge difference.
Put your 80 on the 20
Though the 80/20 Rule¹ has been misapplied at times, it remains a useful guideline. Put the majority (80%) of your effort on the part (20%) that will yield the greatest results. To this I would add: at any one point in time because the 20% is a moving target that, to accurately hit, requires both persistence and flexibility. Creating what I call your Short & Mighty List is a great way to sharpen your focus and get very specific about that 20% of activity that will move you in the direction you want to go.
This year, I’m practicing this to an even greater extent by trimming down my business priorities to a Top 5 each season. Here’s what I’m noticing:
- I feel lighter and more motivated. When I wake up in the morning, I’m very clear about the work at hand, more excited about it, and looking forward to getting to the next five that I’ll tag for Spring.
- I’m only fooling myself when I make the list longer anyway, because it’s not like the work gets done any faster when I try to focus on more. This way is much more freeing and realistic. It gives me the flexibility to address other commitments and opportunities that come along while I’m working my list.
- I’m making better progress and that’s the bottom line. Plus I’m feeling good about actually doing the work I want and need to do to reach my goals… instead of just talking about it!
My clients working their Short & Mighty Lists are reporting similar findings. One small business owner recently told me: “Now that I’ve gotten so specific about my focus, there’s nowhere to run and nowhere to hide. Being busy is no longer an excuse for not taking action on the important stuff.”
Make it Shorter… and You’ll be Mightier
This Week: Create your own Short & Mighty List by identifying the top 3-5 areas in which you want to make significant progress this Spring (you’ll be getting a head start!).
Keep in Mind:
- Your list might include a combination of: mini projects, areas of focus, or even singular actions.
- You can incorporate the LEAP + Steady-As-You-Go approach I’ve shared with you previously.
- In order to focus on your 20%, you’ll be required to put aside a whole bunch of stuff that’s less important and even some things that are important but need to wait for the next season. Warning: This is where most of the resistance comes in! If letting go is challenging for you, take another look at the last issue: Let it Go!
Questions to ask yourself when planning:
- What do I want to move forward the most?
- What is the greatest opportunity presenting itself right now?
- Six months from now, what will have been important to have taken action on?
Let me know how you do with this and remember: Your power is in your focus.
Here's to you,
P.S. Many of you have told me that the topic of focus is extremely relevant for you these days. I’ve started a new topic called Focus in the Current of Life library. You can sort by category to find related articles. See also the category called: Time, Planning.
¹Here are three articles that explain how the 80/20 Rule can be applied to enhance your focus:
Pareto’s Principle: How the 80/20 rule can help you be more effective by F. John Reh
Understanding the Pareto Principle (The 80/20 Rule) by Kalid Azad
Balancing Act: The 80/20 Rule of Time Management by Pamela J. Vaccaro, MA