Business & Leadership Behaviors Random Thoughts

What Are Your Top 5?

I was roaming around LinkedIn yesterday and came across an article shared by Shane Freeman of Eureka Consulting (separate note – I recommend following Shane – he always shares interesting stuff). The article that caught my attention was about Warren Buffett and his “2 List” strategy by James Clear.

I’m a list person. I always have been. I have lists at home, at work, in my bag – everywhere. If it doesn’t get captured on a list it will fall out of my head and not get done – or so I tell myself as I edit another list.

Even at the beginning of the day, I list out everything that I want to get done, rank them by urgency and then get started. That doesn’t mean that my morning routine accurately projects the direction of my day, but (hopefully) it keeps me from letting something fall off of my radar.

Do my lists have aging items? Yes. Do things sometimes take less time to complete than it did to carry it from list, to list, to list over an embarrassing amount of time? Sometimes. Is there better way to manage this – especially for those things that are important? There has to be.

Mr. Buffett, in his infinite wisdom, has a better plan – or at least a strong option to consider. He is, after all, a fairly successful guy, so his advice is worth considering.

The gist of his approach is that once you identify your top 5 priorities, you focus on those (and only those) until they are achieved. Everything else on your list is just a distraction and a drain on the energy you should be putting toward your most important priorities.

“Eliminate ruthlessly. Force yourself to focus.”   – James Clear

Naturally, it got me to thinking about the work I have in front of me right now, the discussions I had this morning regarding upcoming functions for our product, mobilePLUS, and even goals that I have for my life in general. How much more effective could I be as an employee, or our team as software developers, or just me personally, if focus and energy was solely given to the top 5?

As I look back over my week so far, I see how interrupt driven that my time has been. This is not a new revelation by any stretch. It’s an ongoing dilemma that I guess I’ve just looked at as being one of those necessary evils.

There are things that I must complete that I’ve allowed to be delayed by putting energy into less important efforts. So rather than continuing on with my lists and entertaining distractions, I’ll spend some time today and create my two lists ala the Warren Buffett method.

The challenge will be to eliminate items 6 on down from my energy – and firmly decline the distractions. As James Clear said – you need to eliminate ruthlessly and force yourself to focus. Hopefully I’ll have better success than when I applied a similar approach to carbs.

I’ll keep you posted on my progress – and the challenges. One area that will be indicative of some success is when you see some updates to our website, among other things.

What are your methods of prioritization and focus? Do you have a strategy that works for you – or one you definitely recommend to try (or avoid)? I’d love to hear about your experience.



Anne Hale is the Director of Client Services at HL Group, Inc., a premier provider of mobile inventory management and warehouse solutions. She manages our client engagements, works with Wes Haubein on sales and marketing and has a lovely collection of to-do lists that she has dreamed of eliminating through miraculous completion.