You Can Achieve More With Less by Pursuing The Vital Few Instead of The Trivial Many

Your most important tasks guarantee better and faster results

By Andrei Korzhyts/Shutterstock
By Andrei Korzhyts/Shutterstock

Many of us work in an endless stream of tasks, emails, notifications, meetings, multitasking in the process, never pausing and never-ending. Pursuing more and more every day.

Left unchecked, our to-do lists can get overwhelming.

You can only make the most of limited resources like time and energy if you deliberately pursue few things you can do better instead of trying to get many “trivial” things checked off your list — you need to get the right things done and in the right order.

Develop prioritization by shifting to a “less but better” mindset. That means you can magnify your results since you are focusing on the vital few instead of the trivial many.

In their book The One Thing, authors Gary Keller and Jay Papasan suggest focusing on your lead domino — the one task that would topple a sequence of dominos, and even knock down larger dominos in succession.

They said, “You need to be doing fewer things for more effect instead of doing more things with side effects.”

Author Richard Koch expounded on this concept in his book The 80/20 Principle. His advice was to leverage the magic 20% in terms of what you do with your time and how you direct your efforts.

By setting limitations on your to-do list, you force yourself to focus on the essentials and you’re forced to drop the non-important. Gary and Jay argue that if your to-do list contains everything, then it’s probably taking you everywhere but where you really want to go. They recommend we create success lists instead of to-do lists. They explain:

“Long hours spent checking off a to-do list and ending the day with a full trash can and a clean desk are not virtuous and have nothing to do with success. Instead of a to-do list, you need a success list — a list that is purposefully created around extraordinary results. To-do lists tend to be long; success lists are short. One pulls you in all directions; the other aims you in a specific direction.”

Only a few things truly matter to your progress

Francine Jay once said, “My goal is no longer to get more done, but rather to have less to do.” When you train yourself to drop everything else, and focus on getting the vital few done, you become highly productive and accelerate your path to real success.

“If you want to succeed, you need to focus the biggest majority (75% — 90%) of your time and energy on those tasks that are actually essential. By choosing the essentials, you make the greatest impact with just the minimal amount of resources spent,” argues Jari Roomer.

Productivity is about priorities and fiercely protecting your time.

Unfortunately, many people are still choosing quantity over quality — they focus too much on the number of tasks they accomplish instead of looking at the high-value tasks they get done in a given day.

Being productive means focusing on the things you do really well that have the most impact on your long-term goal.

The most productive people determine their MVAs — most valuable activities — and focus on those. They also determine their LVAs — least valuable activities — and find ways to offload those tasks.

Trivial few and unimportant stuff only lead to incremental progress (or no progress at all), while the important and vital tasks lead to significantprogress.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe once said, “Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.”

If you have too much thrown at you every week, and you’re too busy juggling everything coming at you, make time to evaluate what’s essential, what’s urgent, what you can delegate and everything else that’s a waste of your most important asset.

When you force yourself to focus on essential tasks that have a large Return on Investment (ROI), you will be more productive, achieve more and simplify your life in the process.

We all inherently want to be as productive as possible. You don’t have too little time to do all the things you need to do. The problem is, you feel the need to do too many things in the limited time you have.

The key to focusing on the essentials in life and at work is to limit yourself to an arbitrary but small number of things, forcing yourself to focus on the important stuff and eliminate all else. Life can really be better with less if what’s left is what you love doing.

Originally published on Medium.

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