Wisdom//

How to Use The Rule of 3 to Get More Done And Regain Control of Your Day

It's simple yet effective.

Courtesy of Chinnapong / Shutterstock
Courtesy of Chinnapong / Shutterstock

Chances are you have multiple responsibilities and a lot on your plate today, this week, this month or if you are thinking long-term, this year.

Tasks get overwhelming, and stressful if you don’t take complete control.

It’s easy to lose an entire day to busy work, but if you spend your best energy on your most important work, everything else will follow.

The key to getting your best work done every day is to know the next vital few things you need to do to get closer to your life and career goals.

Your approach to getting things done is vital to your long-term success.

The Rule of 3 (how to get daily, weekly, monthly and yearly results)

“Productivity isn’t about doing more things — it’s about doing the right things.” — Chris Baily

The Rule of 3 is a productivity principle that encourages us to focus on achieving just three meaningful outcomes every day, week, month, and year.

It’s one of the simplest but most effective productivity rituals you will ever come across.

The key benefit is to reduce time spent doing unimportant work while improving your personal efficiency and effectiveness.

The rule of 3 has no overheads.

It’s a great technique to figure out what you need to focus on.

The most important thing about The Rule of 3 is that you are focusing on outcomes over activities.

“ By starting your day with three outcomes, you clarify what you want to accomplish. When you know what you want to accomplish, you can prioritize more effectively, and you can let things go,” says J. D. Meier.

He explains his book, “Getting Results the Agile Way”.

“Rather than bite off more than you can chew, you bite off three things. You can use The Rule of 3 at different levels by picking three outcomes for the day, the week, the month, and the year. This helps you see the forest from the trees since your three outcomes for the year are at a higher level than your three outcomes for the month, and your three outcomes for the week are at a higher level than your three outcomes for the day.”

When you finish your three outcomes, you can always grab more.

You could start with the worst or the most difficult tasks first. That way you won’t dread them all day.

Here are J. D. Meier’s guidelines for adopting The Rule of 3:

  • They are your tests for success.
  • You can prioritize any incoming actions against your desired results.
  • When you get distracted throughout the day, you can remind yourself what you wanted to accomplish.
  • If you already have tasks lists, you can simply add your 3 outcomes to the top. This reminds you of what you’re driving for.
  • You learn your focus and capacity. If you aren’t completing the three results you set for the day, you might be picking the wrong things, or you might be biting off more than you can chew.

Benjamin Franklin used a very similar technique to set his goals for each day.

He also asked himself a couple of simple questions at the beginning and end of the day: “What good shall I do this day?” in the morning and “What good have I done today?” before bed.

“The power of the Rule of 3 is in mental focus and concentration. It’s a pre-commitment to finishing 3 things that matter. Day-in, day-out, no exceptions. Achieving 3 important outcomes a day might not seem like much, but that’s 1,095 meaningful results over the course of a year,” says Tony Khuon.

I use the rule of 3 rule to hit my targets for the day, week, month and year.

I choose my 3 MIT’s the night before.

Instead of deciding your 3 things at the beginning of the day, end your day with your three tasks decided and written down.

Create a shutdown routine for the end of your day to help yourself unwind and plan your next day better.

Ask yourself: “What’s the next best thing to do tomorrow?”

Use your time and energy in the morning (power hours) to start work straight away. You get things done faster before midday.

To make it work for you, picture how you want your day to end, and ask yourself what three important tasks you have to get done.

If you will feel accomplished by close of day when those tasks are cleared off your schedule, focus your limited time and energy getting them done.

If you are already occupied with your tasks for today, you can start using the rule tomorrow.

Before the end of day today, write down three things you want to accomplish tomorrow. And then write down three things you want to accomplish this week and month.

Stretch it even further, and write three things you want to achieve this year.

They can be life or career goals.

If the tasks you focus on monthly are out of your control or determined by your superior, focus on daily and weekly tasks.

Start every day knowing exactly what to focus on for the day.

Pay attention to your estimates. How long do you think things will take?

When you have a personal system for how you produce results, you will become be on fire.

It changes everything because you have a real end in mind.

As the day progresses, measure or test your results — are you still on track to achieving your top priorities.

And do you remember what the three priorities are?

If you are spending too much time on a single task, find out if distractions are taking too much of your allocated time for your tasks.

At the end of the day, feel good about your results!

Note your 3 accomplishments. It’s an attitude of gratitude that builds momentum for the next day.

Celebrate your wins or achievements in your own small way.

If you didn’t achieve your 3 outcomes, measure what went wrong and improve tomorrow. You’ll get better with practice.

Closing thoughts

The rule of three is one of the best ways to choose your wins for the day, week, month and year. It can help you set your sights on three meaningful results, and using that to drive your day.

Use the rule of three to design and drive your day for higher performance.

You can use the rule of three to simplify your life and career.

Work deliberately through your day rather than reactively.

Originally published on Medium.

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