Chances are that, like me, you find yourself thinking about too many things. This isn’t an exception in our time, it’s (sadly) the norm.
We assault our minds with thousands of thoughts every day and try to prioritize most of them into logical buckets. My mind is a jumbled mess at times with thoughts like:
- “I need to call this prospect at 4:00 PM.”
- “The proposal is due tomorrow, need to work on it tonight.”
- “Kids are coming home early, have to get the babysitter to pick them up.”
The list goes on and on. My friend Gan Sharma loves to remind me that physiologically speaking, the human brain is a processor, not a hard drive. It’s not meant to remember much, just to process information.
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So how in the world do you get all of these ideas from your brain prioritized?
The Other Solution
Greg McKeown reversed that question and asked a far more important one: why focus on so much at all?
His book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less answers these and many other questions. If you’re in sales, marketing, an Executive of any kind, I would highly recommend you read (or listen) to this book cover to cover. It’s filled with simple truths; some I found that I knew but wasn’t practicing, but others that challenge the status quo thinking of priorities.
Is it important to have priorities? Absolutely. But the challenge has become that we are bombarded with work, life and other people’s priorities. We are being pulled in every single direction to focus on too much.
The result is a massive dilution of quality of work, quality of peace of mind and quality of life. This doesn’t serve any purpose and is a recipe for disaster. Believe me, I’ve gone through this.
The book explores a very a simple decision-making framework that resonated with me greatly. It’s called The 90% Rule that forces every decision to be scrutinized with one, very simple question: is this the best use of my time? If you can’t score that decision with a 9 out of 10, give it a zero. Get out of there…fast!
Our CEO Jamie Shanks first heard this and within minutes of digesting its importance cancelled over half the meetings on his calendar on that day. They just weren’t the best use of his time and didn’t contribute to his overall goals for the business.
Your Contributions Matter
Greg McKeown passionately argues for laser-focus and less priorities for a few reasons:
1. The ability to go deep and master your work.
2. Completing work that you’re passionate about, where you’re able to utilize your natural talents to realize your purpose and achieve fulfilment.
3. Gain insights into growth both personally and professionally by staying focused on life’s greatest missions.
Ultimately, this is about your contributions to your work, your family, friends, spiritual life and more. But none of these can get your full attention if you can’t find the time to do it.
The Bottom Line
If you’re reading this, I give you a challenge: go through your work calendar right now and put every single meeting there through the 90% Rule. Rate the meetings on a scale of 10 and ask if they ultimately benefit your end goals.
Life is busy, there’s no doubt about it. But I promise you that by going through Greg McKeown’s framework, you’ll have the practical steps needed to better align your finite focus to things that matter.
I’m going to write a Part 2 or follow-up to this blog in the near future and I hope to report back some positive findings after practicing what I’ve learned.
After all, we’re all trying to get more fulfilment out of life. Why not get a helping hand?