Choosing what NOT to focus on

Walter Miller, who runs a terrific bookkeeping and outsourced CFO firm responded to my prior email about doing vs. being and I thought his reply was insightful enough to share with you all (with his permission):

I am constantly having to pare down my to-do list. I’m trying to focus more on the to-do’s that move the needle of strategic progress. For my brain, that looks like 3 or less to-dos/goals that are considered MUST DO at any point in time. The rest (and there are often many of them) get labeled NICE TO DO. Many of the nice to-do’s get done but not at the expense of the must do.

My problem in the past is that my goal plate was overloaded with tasks of all sorts and priorities. In 2019, I’m trying to be ruthless in defining what I want to focus on. For my brain that often means deciding what I will choose to NOT focus on.

The other benefit for my brain is that I worry less.  Many of the Nice to Dos are going to get done—some by me, and some delegated—but I get less caught up and invested in the scorekeeping aspect of the to-do’s crossed off.

I really appreciate Walter sharing his take. Thank you, Walter.

There are a couple of things here that particularly struck me:

  • Parring down the to-do list to just the must do items helps us avoid being overwhelmed.
  • Clarity about what constitutes a must do. The only must do’s for you, the leader, are things that move your business and growth strategy forward.
  • There’s less stress, worry, and anxiety when you focus on fewer things!

How are you focusing on your big goals this year? Hit reply, I want to hear!

I also heard back from Jon Schickendanz who runs Alliance Labs who was excited to find another “bread guy” and passed along this amazing recipe for *Bacon Sourdough* (Ummmm… bacon!)

Apparently, baking sourdough bread is very “on trend”. Who knew?


How to Survive the Next Era of Tech (Slow Down and Be Mindful)

Farhad Manjoo has been writing about tech, and its impact on society continuously for the last 5 years. In this column, he gives us a few considerations about how to reap the benefits of tech with care. This isn’t “keep your brain safe” care. This is more “keep your community, data, and life safe” care. Check it out.

The Surprising Value of Obvious Insights

A big part of my job is getting folks to change their mind (which isn’t always easy). This article argues that when you put forward challenging or difficult insights the listener’s defenses go up, but when you put forward more obvious insights they are more likely to follow through. They’ve got some great application of this idea to managing employees taken from some research done by Google on their own team. Read on.


Was talking with a massage therapist who worked with several Bay Area sports teams about just how much effort pro athletes put into recovery. Been thinking about what recovery looks like for people whose work involves giving their minds, rather than their bodies, a beating.


You probably over-weight the perceived consequences of SCREWING up, and under-weight the value of SHOWING up.


“If you had to pinpoint, roughly, when the marriage started to suffer … intimately-speaking”


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