The rule of three: stay organized by working on only three projects at a time

I’m one of those people who have a hard time relaxing – I’m always working on something, whether it is a personal project or something for work. The idea of spending a quite evening at home and doing nothing… well, that’s alien to me. But even with that attitude,  I’ve realized that I needed to not overcommit myself. Whenever I overcommit, I underdeliver.

Which is why I decided a while back to focus and only work on three projects at one time – whether it’s personal or professional, having only three things going on brings a lot of benefits:

It helps prioritize

What projects make the cut? By making that conscious decision you can determine the value you have assigned to each project – and please note the conscious part. Too many people overcommit without thinking about it.

It reduces distractions

If you have only three projects/priorities, you can “shut out” distractions, either deliberately or automatically. Turn off e-mail, or automatically file certain messages based on key criteria.

It’s easy to prioritize

I use the standard prioritization high, medium and low… and applying that to my three projects lets me focus on where I need to apply the most (and the least) time.

It let’s you say no

Finally, having a short list of three things you are doing gives you the power to say “no” to any requests that are not associated with those three projects. You can say no without feeling guilty or feeling you have shirked your responsibilities… because you have an eye on priorities.

Now you may think this is easier said than done, that you have way too many things going on in your life. And here’s the thing: you may be right. You CAN’T only work on three projects. But here’s the great part: You can change the three projects you are working on every day. This gives you a way to start your day by looking at what is going on and identifying your three projects.

Try it… you may find it helps you get more done. And you may even be able to relax on the weekend.