A house fire can be devastating. In the US, a house fire occurs almost every two minutes—causing more than 12,000 injuries and more than 2,500 deaths per year. In 10 percent of those fires, the entire house and all its contents are destroyed.
Ask yourself, if your house was on fire, and you could only save three things, what would those three things be?
Go ahead… think to yourself what three things would you save if you could only save three? Maybe you have lots of stuff. Maybe you have lots of great stuff. But you still have to choose only three.
No doubt, a burning house would generate a laser-like focus on saving the three things that are most important to you.
Answers might include saving people and pets, bank cards and money, photographs, technology such as phones, tablets, and computers, important papers, jewelry, artwork, or other valuables.
Generally speaking, you’d probably save important relationships, and items that help preserve your identity and lifestyle—items that define you and have real value to you.
Minute by minute, hour by hour
Now imagine this, you woke up safe this morning, and your house wasn’t on fire—but now you’re aware of something else that’s burning: your time. Your time is burning away–a minute at a time, hour after hour.
And even though you have lots to get done, you can only do three things. What would you do? Would you choose to do the three most important things that need to get done?
Like the items rescued from your burning house, would you choose to work on important relationships and things that enhance your identity and lifestyle? Would you choose to do three things that define you and have real value to you?
You become what you take the time to become
One of the most creative things you can do is express yourself through how you use your time. In fact, how you use your time is your most personal form of expression. No one can match your exact expression of time. You leave your fingerprints on time. You tell the world who you really are by how you use your time.
Frankly, I’d have a good idea about who you really are by being able to see how you used your time this week. What’s more, I’d have a good idea about who you really want to be by looking at how you plan your week ahead.
Choosing just three vital and important things a day to complete forces you to prioritize the most significant things you want to achieve, and then causes you to have laser-like focus in getting them done.
Think of it this way: Three things per workday is 15 per work week. That’s roughly 750 things in a year. Better to complete 750 tasks carefully, and score 750 for 750, then aim for 5000 and do much less.
Although it seems counterintuitive, limiting the number of items on your to-do list will actually increase your motivation. Three items mean there’s enough on your list so you feel a sense of achievement when you finish, but not so much that the size of the list is frightening.
Out of all the things you could do today, it helps to look at them through the lens of Good, Better, and Best—and commit to complete only the three best first. Keep in mind, what’s important is seldom urgent, and what’s urgent is seldom important.
Doing the important by ignoring the rest
The truth is, you don’t get anything done by trying to get everything done. You don’t focus better by working harder, either. You focus by intentionally limiting distractions. Fighting distractions is essential in completing your top three items. Look, all day long distractions will grab you by the hand and insist: “Follow me! You have to see this! You have to like this! Hear this! Don’t miss this! Be the first to know this!” Your job is to take your hand and place it over your heart and say: “No. I will do this and focus on it until it’s finished.”
Your time is on fire! Choose your priorities carefully.