Every second stage entrepreneur I’ve met faces the challenge of prioritizing an incredible volume of things to do. With continued growth, the list won’t get shorter – until you achieve clarity (via an Operating System) and observe a few simple truths such as:
“You Can Do Anything, But Not Everything.”
This mantra by David Allen, Author of “Getting Things Done”, is a great one for entrepreneurs who are always aspiring to make an impact. Yes, we entrepreneurs can do anything! Just not everything.
As with other second stage secrets, successful second-stagers follow similar methodologies for managing the tasks at hand. David’s Getting Things Done (GTD) approach is very popular, though I personally found it cumbersome to implement with such a high volume of “stuff” to manage both personally and professionally.
The greatest hack I’ve found shifts the focus from prioritizing/scheduling/organizing/listing tasks to priorities with one very simple premise:
“What are the 3 highest priority things I can do today?”
In a gross over-simplification, this concept comes from Agile methodology and a tool called Kanban which visualizes and shares work in progress. When you hear about the Toyota way, Kanban was one of the tools used in their incredible transformation. You can easily begin implementing the system without any deeper knowledge than human-beings are only capable of working on so many things at one time, with the consensus being that number is about 3.
In roughly 15 minutes you can get started using this concept by signing up for a free account at http://www.agilezen.com. You’ll quickly create virtual “cards” for what needs to be done, and pull the three priorities you’re working on now into your work-in-progress.
“Wait!”, you say. “I’m working on more than 3 things!” Not really. It’s simply not possible to be ACTIVELY working on many things at the same time. We cheat ourselves (and others) when we think otherwise.
If you want to research more about how this all works before getting started, I highly recommend Jim Benson’s Personal Kanban 101 as a more formal introduction.
If you’re a just-do-it kind of person, use AgileZen.com, complete one priority and move another into your work-in-progress. And then do it again. Work to prioritize what is most strategic. Magic will follow. :-)
Books for further reading:
- Personal Kanban: Mapping Work | Navigating Life
- Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity