in Life Lessons

The Biggest Prioritizing Lesson I Learnt All Year

There are many schools of thought on the number of things you ought to have on your to-do list – some say six (the Ivy Lee Method), some say three, some say one, three and five.

There are also guides on how to rank your tasks using the Eisenhower Matrix. But I can say is you can have any amount of tasks on your to-do list as long as you know this one thing –

You have to focus on one main task for the day. The rest will work around it. I’ve learned this the hard way after trying the 3 Most Important Task method for the entire year.


What’s the difference? In having one thing on top vs 3 things on top? Wouldn’t the one with 3 things on their plate get more stuff done?

Here’s the difference:

One thing = focus

Having one thing on top becomes the thing you obsess and think about all day from wake to sleep. You think about it when you are eating, driving and so on.

All the other tasks (even no.2 or no.3) work around your #1 task. You will feel as though no. 2 and no. 3 are getting in the way of your no. 1. And more often than not, you will do an excellent job on the 1 thing (after all, its only one thing).

The funny thing about having your one thing is that even after you are done, you would have been on such a roll that you will continue to do more of it throughout the day.

Having one main thing to focus on simmers your brain to have fun at it since your mind has time to think about throughout the day instead of throwing it out the window once done.

You would overreach and overachieve just a little bit, getting even more done and feeling better about yourself in the process.

Too many things, too little focus

Having 3 things on top, on the other, disperses your needed focus on 3 things and place them on equal weight.

Feeling overwhelmed, you can’t wait to rush them and get them off your plate. It feels like a chore more than a task you want to do. You end up doing a mediocre job on all three.

Also, by the time you are done with the three, you cant wait but to enjoy yourself and reward yourself for all the hard work and as a result, you switch off early and play, all the while dreading another tomorrow.

Side note: Author Greg McKeown of the book Essentialism, observed that the word “priority” was singular since its invention in the 1400s. It wasn’t until the 1900s, five hundred years later, that it became plural.

I’ve come to realize that wanting to learn 3 skills (mine was copywriting, reading, meta-learning) in a month isn’t bad as long as you dedicate one skill to an entire day. Trying to do all 3 on a single day is bound to overwhelm you.

Have focus and do just one thing a day and let the others find their way around it.