Priorities & Planning

Some tricks to help you focus and help you focus on the right things

Some tricks - to keep the right focus

  • What is important is seldom urgent, and what is urgent is seldom important. ~ Dwight D. Eisenhower


  • Those tasks you deem to be of primary importance, which must get done today, come hell or high water.


  • Activities which enrich your life such as exercise, reading and side projects. These items are “investments” which will pay off in the medium to long term. I focus quite a bit on quadrant 2, since these are the things that I (and the multitudes) tend to procrastinate on.


  • Here we can bundle most of the distractions that bombard us daily that may require our attention at some point. I like putting many of the organizational/ administrative items here.


  • When I have the time I’ll get around to these items. I don’t have to make a conscious effort to remember them, since these are the things I usually default to when I veg out.
  • TODAY I will accomplish...
    • 1 BIG THING
  • "If it's your job to eat a frog, it's best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it's your job to eat two frogs, it's best to eat the biggest one first." - Mark Twain
  • A time management method that uses a timer to break down work into intervals, traditionally 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks.
  1. Choose a task to be accomplished.
  2. Set a timer to 25 minutes (plenty of apps to help with this)
  3. Work on the task until the Pomodoro rings, then put a check on your sheet of paper
  4. Take a short break (5 minutes is OK)
  5. Every 4 Pomodoros take a longer break

Successful people have a bias toward action

Their default behaviour is to actually "do" something — to take action. With a bias toward action then you're not beholden to any particular workflow, system, or tool. You're going to get stuff done no matter what.

Developing that bias toward action is a lot harder when things are overly complex and confusing.

We have to adapt to the change, and that means doing something differently, the operative word being DOING, and the fancy tech will only help if you're focussed on the right things, and willing to take action.

6 Brutal Truths About Productivity No One Wants to Talk About

Humans are prolific procrastinators, but your actions define you, not your thoughts
  • “Action is the foundational key to all success.” – Pablo Picasso
  • Thinking about everything you can make better, won't change anything.
  • Until you start doing what needs to be done, you’re not actually making a difference.
  • Many people who hear or read about productivity hacks and strategies won’t do anything with the information. They'll go back to their lives, don’t change anything, and get the same results they were getting before: not getting stuff done.
  • The good news is that subjectivity follows action - you feel better when you Do something
Getting started is the biggest hurdle!

“To think is easy. To act is difficult. To act as one thinks is the most difficult.” — Johann Wolfgang Von Goeth

  • Making that important decision to take a step. You can be as big and successful as you can possibly imagine if you build that mindset and push yourself to make that all important decision to just start, and act!
  • “Right now, and for the first time ever, a passionate and committed individual has access to the technology, minds, and capital required to take on any challenge.” Peter Diamandis
You will never be able to do it all - 80/20 rule
  • The Pareto principle (also known as the 80/20 rule, the law of the vital few, or the principle of factor sparsity) states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. ... Pareto developed both concepts in the context of the distribution of income and wealth among the population.
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  • Success demands a singleness of purpose. —  Vince Lombardi
  • Do one thing well, not three things badly!
  • Being selective, doing less, is the path of the productive.
  • It pays to focus on the important few and ignore the rest.
Distraction is the enemy!

“If you see distraction externally, you end up creating an internally distracted state.” — Tim Ferriss

  • Tim might have figured how to earn as much as he is happy with in just four hours a week. The closest I got was to a four day week.
  • I was running a plumbing company on Waiheke, and my 50/50 partner and I spent three years, working 4 days a week. I swear I got just as much done as when we worked five days, maybe more. We could have pushed it harder, but we didn't . . .
  • Demand for our time is increasingly exceeding our capacity — draining us of the energy we need to bring our skill and talent fully to life.
  • We're exposed to an unprecedented flood of information. All these calls for our attention, and more requests than ever before. We feel compelled to read and respond, at all hours of the day and night.
  • The web is an interruption system, a machine designed to grab your attention
    • Nicholas Carr explains in his book The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains: “We willingly accept the loss of concentration and focus, the division of our attention and the fragmentation of our thoughts, in return for the wealth of compelling or at least diverting information we receive.”
    • And "This Is How Your Fear and Outrage Are Being Sold for Profit"
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There is no perfect time!
  • “Do not wait: the time will never be ‘just right’.
  • Start where you stand, and work with whatever tools you may have at your command, and better tools will be found as you go along.” — Napoleon Hill (Think and Grow Rich)
  • Act now
AND - sometimes the best thing to do is: Nothing

“Reflect on what you do in a day. You may have never realised how some simple harmless activities rob you of precious time.” — Vivek Naik

  • Life is a challenge. Sometimes it’s common to feel like you’re constantly working against the clock every day, and moving plans and tasks around to meet deadlines. And guess what, when you do take time to relax … you feel guilty. But you shouldn’t.
  • Many productivity resources are focused on what you can do MORE of in order to achieve your goals. But MORE is hard to achieve. Many people can’t get a lot done. And they get anxious and stressed even more.
  • Doing nothing refreshes your mind. Taking breaks in our mental work is equally helpful.
  • On my 60th birthday I took two days of walking the hills behind us. It was a brief diversion and it improved my focus. According to research, taking a break allows you to come back to your task with renewed energy and sense of purpose.
  • The next time you feel guilty about doing nothing, [Nothing, Not checking Facebook, Nothing]
    • Go for a walk
    • Sit quietly / meditate
    • Note some reflections in your journal
    • Consider how much more effective it may make you in the long run.

Time Management

  • Dan Mall replaced that common phrase “I don’t have time” with “it’s not a priority” - feel the difference?
  • We can't manage time, but we can manage ourselves and how we spend it
Things you CAN do to use time well

Automate, delegate, and eliminate:

  • Are you spending time doing things that aren’t important or could be done by someone else? Cut those tasks out or delegate them to someone else.

Minimum and Maximum time blocks:

  • Give yourself a minimum amount of time to spend on important things and a maximum amount of time to spend on less- important things. For me, this looks like a minimum of two hours writing and a maximum of 30 minutes doing email. I have a minimum time I spend with my family each day and a maximum time to watch Netflix each week. A minimum amount of time spent reading and a maximum amount of time spent on social networks.

Schedule your most important tasks:

  • If you know what is most important for you to do each day, then schedule it.

Daily schedule of every single minute:

  • It might take 15 mins, but I guarantee it will yield great results

Single tasking:

  • The most challenging, and we'll talk amore about this after lunch.
  • Know what your most important work is.
  • What are the areas of your life that you want to spend time on?