Staying busy is an easy goal to meet. But if your goal is to lead well, then you must do what Steve Jobs did at Apple: it’s time for “planned neglect.” It’s time to skip some items on your list, so you can get to those that are most important.
Apple was failing when Steve Jobs took over the second time. A Harvard Business Review article notes:
When Jobs returned to Apple in 1997, it was producing a random array of computers and peripherals, including a dozen different versions of the Macintosh. After a few weeks of product review sessions, he’d finally had enough. “Stop!” he shouted. “This is crazy.” He grabbed a Magic Marker, in his bare feet went to a whiteboard, and drew a two-by-two grid. “Here’s what we need,” he declared. Atop the two columns, he wrote “Consumer” and “Pro.” On the side he labeled the two rows “Desktop” and “Portable.” Their job, he told his team members, was to focus on only four great products, one for each quadrant. All other products should be canceled. There was a stunned silence. But by getting Apple to focus on making just four computers, he saved the company. “Deciding what not to do is as important as deciding what to do,” he said. “That’s true for companies, and it’s true for products.” (Emphasis added)
I’m often better at problem solving than I am at the prioritizing the problems that need to be solved.
I don’t know about you, but I’m often better at problem solving than I am at the prioritizing the problems that need to be solved. The secret to success in work and life is prioritization—and that necessitates planned neglect. You can’t do everything, so prioritize well, do the most important, and neglect the rest.
Last week we talked about authenticity, so let me keep it real: When I’m drained and lacking energy, I default to the easy problems that keep me busy. But accomplishing those brings neither true satisfaction nor lasting joy. At the end of the day, it’s work well done, but it’s not a job well done.
You must prioritize well or you will forever be banned to the Island of Mediocrity.
The Bottom Line: If you prioritize well, you’ll be proud of your accomplishments, happier at home, and sleep better at night. Do yourself a favor and prioritize right now. (See below for the free Prioritization Grid to help)