Your reality is the sum of the actions you take. If you aren’t working towards creating the reality you want to live, someone else will happily put you to work creating theirs.
Not all tasks have the same impact. Paying bills, mowing the lawn, and walking the dog are all things that need to happen, but if that’s all you do, what will your life look like five years from now? You and the dog will be five years older, but that’s about it.
This is why we set goals. Goals are milestones we set to chart a course to the life we want to live. The more we work on our goals, the faster we will achieve our goals, and the more time we will spend living our ideal life instead of dreaming about it.
When it comes to ABC prioritization of your tasks, it’s your A tasks that will move the needle. Most A tasks directly contribute to one of your active goals for the quarter. Some A tasks will come from your roles instead of your goals. That’s fine. One-off tasks you do because you’re a Parent or Friend can still have a deep, meaningful impact on your life.
Occasionally you’ll see gravel become an A task, like when you realize they’ve turned your internet off because the debit card you gave them expired two months ago and they didn’t send you a courtesy notice. When this happens, it’s because a task that could have been dealt with earlier has slipped so far into Quadrant 1 that you have no choice but to take care of it now to avoid further consequences. That’s a fire that should have been put out before it started.
You should have no more than three A tasks each day. Stephen Covey calls these your Big Rocks; Michael Hyatt calls them your Daily Big 3. Any more than this and you’re going to lose focus on what’s important. Remember: when everything’s important, nothing is.
If you don’t think that you’ll accomplish much with just three tasks a day, do the math. Three tasks a day, multiplied by five days per week, multiplied by fifty weeks (take two weeks off because the math is simpler) is 750 tasks. And these aren’t just any tasks—these are the powerful, high-octane tasks that directly contribute to reshaping your reality.
Will you always have three A tasks? No. Some days, you’ll be tied up in meetings and the thick of thin things (it happens) and you’ll only have one or two. Maybe you select a single A task because that one task means so much to today’s win condition.
On vacations and weekends, you might have zero as you choose to enjoy the fruits of your productive labors and simply be present.
Three is the maximum, not the minimum. Be intentional and realistic and give your best attention to the tasks that need it most.
A tasks don’t just happen. You can prioritize whatever jumble of tasks you need to do tomorrow and call three of them your A tasks for the day, but they’re not going to magically transform your life. You need to be intentional. You need to review your active goals, identify specific actions you can take, and commit to those tasks. That’s how you’re going to achieve your goals. That’s how you’re going to reshape your reality.
You can’t do everything you want to. There just isn’t time. Focusing on your A tasks will at least make sure you’re moving in the direction you want to go. Protect those tasks and step-by-step, you’ll start living a designed life.