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“Decide what you want, decide what you are willing to exchange for it. Establish your priorities and go to work.”
H. L. Hunt
Warren Buffett is the third wealthiest person in the world with a reported net worth of $84.4 billion. He is considered to be one of the most successful investors in the world.
But Buffett doesn’t just understand the value of companies, he also has an excellent understanding of the value of time.
He uses a simple three-step productivity strategy to decide his priorities and actions.
The story below came from one of Buffett’s employees, Mike Flint, who was Buffett’s pilot for 10 years.
Flint was talking about his priorities when Buffett asked him to do three things.
Buffett’s Three-Step Productivity Strategy
- Firstly, Buffett asked Flint to write down the top 25 goals and dreams he wanted to achieve in the next few years or even his lifetime.
- Then, Buffett asked him to review his list and circle the top five goals that were the most important to him. As they were all important to him, Flint found his step very difficult.
- After he had done this, Flint was left with two lists. List A contained the five circled high priorities and List B the remaining 20.
When Flint suggested he would get started on List A straight away, Buffett asked him about List B.
“Well, the top 5 are my primary focus, but the other 20 come in a close second. They are still important, so I’ll work on those intermittently as I see fit. They are not as urgent, but I still plan to give them a dedicated effort.”
To which Buffett said,
“No. You’ve got it wrong, Mike. Everything you didn’t circle just became your Avoid-At-All-Cost list. No matter what, these things get no attention from you until you’ve succeeded with your top 5.“
So, now Flint has two lists. His five priorities to focus on and an “avoid at all cost” list.
Focus Mode in Tameday
One of the great features in Tameday is the ability to switch on “Focus Mode” when you’re working on an important task. When a team member pings you, they’ll get a notification to state this. Once you remove yourself from focus mode, you’ll be able to see all the stuff you missed whilst you were in the zone.
How to Implement Buffett’s Strategy
At the start of 2019, you may have made a long list of goals you wanted to achieve in work and life this year.
If we have a long list of things to do, it can feel overwhelming and we may fail to achieve any of the things we wanted to.
The brilliance of Buffett’s approach is its simplicity — it forces us to focus on what is most important.
Setting clear priorities is a crucial part of goal-setting.
Instead of trying to achieve a long list of things, focus on the five that are most important to you and ignore the rest.
The Power of Elimination
There’s a new Netflix show about decluttering your home called Tidying Up with Marie Kondo.
The host, Marie Kondo, tells the people whose homes she visits to help them declutter to focus on the things that bring them joy.
We can bring this approach to our list of priorities by eliminating those things that don’t contribute to our top five goals or bring us joy.
James Clear author of Atomic Habits said, “eliminating the inessential is one of the best ways to make life easier, make good habits more automatic, and make you grateful for what you do have.”
When Buffett was asked what his secret to success was in an interview, he put it down to saying “no” more often.
The key to mastering productivity is figuring out how to do less not more.
Once you set out your goals, you need to stay motivated and keep working towards achieving them.
Related: How to Focus and Get More Done!