Earlier today, I came across an article on the Time Magazine website that is worth remembering: “Warren Buffett’s Strategy to Maximize Your Focus and Master Your Priorities”. The idea presented in the article is simple, yet powerful. Make a list of your top 25 goals and circle the five that are most important. The twenty that you didn’t select are to be avoided at all costs, until the top five are done. Simple, right?
Aligning actions with priorities
So, this got me thinking. A couple of years ago I read (about half) of the GTD book and dove into vertical planning, laying out my goals according to the airplane analogy David Allen describes in the book.
- Lifetime/Long-term (50,000 ft)
- 3-5 year goals (40,000 ft)
- 1-2 year goals (30,000 ft)
- Areas of Responsibility (20,000 ft)
- Current projects (10,000 ft)
- Tasks to move my projects forward (Ground level)
For a time, it helped me make sure my todos were aligned with my ultimate priorities. While I do think about the vertical view from time to time, I generally find myself chained to the current projects level. I want every task I put on my todo list to be clearly connected to my lifetime goals. To that end, I’ve decided to use a tag for each of my lifetime goals (there are only four). Any task that can’t be tied back to one of the four long-term goals is one that I can safely skip.
For the next month I’m going to try this out. I’m hoping for two things. I’ve already mentioned the first thing; actions clearly aligned with goals. The second thing is that I want to be able to look back at the end of the year and see how much I moved closer towards a 1-2 year, 3-5 year, or lifetime goal. We’ll see how it works out.