After acknowledging that you can’t get to everything, it’s time to prioritize. We’ve discussed single tasking and tools that help you focus on the task at hand, like the Pomodoro technique, but prioritizing tasks to work on each day can be a challenge. Meet that challenge with the 3 + 2 rule.
The 3 + 2 Rule
After struggling with bottomless to-do lists, working all hours of the day and night and still feeling like I was coming up short, I came across a discussion of the 3 + 2 Rule – identify only 3 big things and 2 small things to do in a day. It’s simple: write down 3 primary activities you need to accomplish, each taking 1 to 2 hours, and 2 secondary ones that take 20 to 30 minutes each.
I’ve played around with this – like adding tasks and adjusting the time assigned to each and keep coming back to the 3 + 2 standard. Maybe it’s the structure that resonates and an awareness of the slippery slope of messing around too much with a process that works.
Coupled with practices like the Pomodoro technique, the 3 + 2 rule results in a more focused, productive day and a feeling of accomplishment with measurable goals: completed tasks.
It’s also not realistic to assume you’ll have only five tasks on a given day, but start by prioritizing the two primary and three secondary tasks. Then add other, less urgent, tasks that you can tackle if time permits.