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The simple question that leads to perfect work-life balance - The Week

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Is it "Is it important?"

I'm not an expert on work-life balance, but somehow I think that it comes from inability to judge between urgent and important, not from inability to draw rectangles and crossing lines.

Good point Sergey, making decisions about what's important is very personal and subjective, one could think organizing their rock collection was the most urgent and important thing in their life, while their house burns to the ground, (maybe that's a bad example ;)

So what people really need is a good framework for determining what should be high priority. 

1. Everything is not equally important. Do fewer things and do them well.

2. Decide what your values are — and which ones take precedence.

3. Do the things that get disproportionate results.

4. Focus on the things only you can do.

5. Do the important things which must be done now.

These are key to me:

2) What gets you disproportionate results?

Face it: often you start by doing whatever happens to be in front of you. But proximity does not equal priority.

In his book The ONE Thing, Gary Keller applies the "Pareto principle" to the workday:

Most of us get 80 percent of results from 20 percent of the work we do. So focus on that 20 percent.

What really creates progress vs. treading water? What gives disproportionate results? Do that first and most frequently.

3) What's the thing only *you* can do well?

If someone else can do the laundry at home, let them do it. If someone else can do the filing at work, let them do it.

But if you're the parent, you need to be at the parent-teacher conference and if you're the sales lead you need to be at the sales meeting.

All in all, the effective executive tries to be himself; he does not pretend to be someone else. He looks at his own performance and at his own results and tries to discern a pattern. "What are the things," he asks, "that I seem to be able to do with relative ease, while they come rather hard to other people?" [The Effective Executive: The Definitive Guide to Getting the Right Things Done]

Management guru Pete Drucker says focus on the things that only you can do. Delegate, outsource, or neglect the rest.

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