Over the last month, I've been trying a novel tactic to stay on top of all of my projects, something I call 'The Big Three.'
Despite the cheesy title I gave it, it was a concept I had read about on multiple internet forums and in the many clickbait Facebook articles I had read between patient visits. 'The Big Three' is at its heart a way to simplify a complex life into smaller, easier to digest chunks.
Steve Jobs, the founder of Pixar and Apple, once said that the goal of a company is to take the 10-15 projects that a company COULD complete and wean them down to the best 3. In the same way, 'The Big Three' applies that logic to your personal life. There are probably 18,236 things you COULD do tomorrow - but why not just do the top 3?
How To Do 'The Big Three':
Doing a million projects all at once? Relax. Before going to bed, think about the top 3 things you have to do the next day. Deliberately choose the things either 1) due super soon, 2) that you've been procrastinating, or 3) that have been stressing you out A LOT.
I believe my first list looked something like the following:
- Pay off the bill for a dental appointment.
- Apologize to a professor for not turning in a draft on time.
- Compiling at least 20 publications in a bibliography for a research project.
The key at this point is to STOP. Do NOT focus on the 18,236 other things you could do tomorrow.
Instead, take 3 deep breaths. Each of those other projects can wait AT LEAST ONE MORE DAY.
See how that makes you feel?
At least one more day. That's the key.
That first day for me was not at all easy. I wasted a least five minutes on my couch with the dental bill lying accusatorily on my coffee table. I finally reluctantly paid it online in a process that took no more than four minutes. I then sent an apology e-mail to my professor which took about five more minutes.
I then spent an hour and a half at my local coffee shop compiling a list of publications. I ended up finding 36.
In just two short hours, I had just removed three massive weights from my back.
Be Steve Jobs.
Here's your homework:
- Before bed tonight, write down the top 3 things you need to complete tomorrow. Make sure they're the most pressing, but also the most reasonable. Don't choose 3 things that will each individually take 5 hours (unless you're off all day and have that kind of time).
- Wake up the next day. Don't address any other to do items or tasks until you've completed your 'Big Three.'
- Finish your day and repeat.
Did you find this tip useful? Let me know below! And consider sharing this link with students, professors, family, or friends.
Also, I'm always looking to become more efficient. Share your tips and tricks below - if they're useful, I'll share them in a future post!
Internal medicine resident at NYU in New York City with an interest in heme / oncology (cancer care).