Planning To The Power Of Three

While it’s not a replacement for detailed, methodical planning, I use a simple “Power Of Three” approach to keep my work and my goals aligned. Its purpose is to prioritize and create a framework that shapes detailed planning. It works because it highlights meaningful outcomes alongside finished work. And it works as effectively for work that you manage as it does for your own work.

Given that part of the Power Of Three is the power to improve working and workplaces, I’m happy to share it.

Underlying this model are two clear principles. You can only effectively focus on three things without priorities eroding. You can only do one thing at a time.

And here is the model:

  1. Define your medium-to-longterm three focus areas. Say “no” to the rest
  2. For each focus area, define three outcomes for the next twelve months. Say “no” to the rest
  3. For each outcome, define three projects or initiatives that move toward them for each quarter. Say “no” to the rest
  4. For each project/initiative, define three deliverables and milestones for the month that build to the desired end state. Say “no” to the rest
  5. For each deliverable/milestone, define three activities for the week that result in completion of your deliverables. Say “no” to the rest
  6. For each weekly activity, define three tasks that define your priorities for the day. Say “no” to the rest

To make the Power Of Three work for you, promise yourself time each day, week, month, quarter, and year for a review session to define the right three options for each interval. At the start of each review, also reflect on how effective you were at maintaining your focus on three in the period prior. For intervals of a month and longer, a midpoint review will also keep you from drifting past the point where you can’t recover direction.

It requires commitment to take that time and discipline to say “no” to what falls outside your commitments, but the result of the Power Of Three, in balance, productivity, and effectiveness, will make the effort worth it.

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