RANDYGRAM – THE NUMBER THREE  Just a casual glance around you will reveal a multitude of references to the number “3”.  Three strikes and you’re out.  The Three Stooges.  The Rule of Thirds in art and photography.  A trilogy. The Marketing Power of Three (choices).  Triangulation.  Veni, Vedi, Vici.  The Third Rock from the Sun.  The structural stability of a three legged stool.  The Holy Trinity.  An alliterative triad.  The three acts of a play.  Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. “Three Coins in a Fountain”.  Etc., etc., etc.

So why is that, and how does it help us to be more productive?  Well, three is a basic organizing principle because it allows for some degree of complexity but doesn’t overwhelm our brains.  We can remember three things without having to refer to a list.  And that can give us a powerful way to organize our thoughts, our goals and our immediate tasks at hand.

A long list of things to do, from necessary to vitally important, can actually be an impediment to getting anything of significance done.  It is overwhelming. And often we veer off to easier but less important tasks.  We each need to find a way to determine priorities and to establish the correct order for accomplishing our goals.

I learned this concept from a fraternity brother who was both extremely bright and very well organized.  He always had more free time than the rest of us and he now sports a PhD. in Chemical Engineering.  Baffling?  Not really.  His secret was that each evening he wrote out on a note card the three things he would do the next day.  And then he did them.  Imagine that.  I have adapted his system to one of my own. 

Each Monday I write down three big things I will accomplish by the end of each week.  Then under each one, I detail three primary tasks that will lead to finishing each of the big things.  And I am certain that it isn’t necessary here to spell out the difference between a significant accomplishment and a task. 

I make sure to get started early on Monday and begin to check each item off.  Sure, some really big projects may need to be repeated the following week, but it has been a useful way for me to think about staying focused on goals, priorities and importantly, avoiding interesting but less productive distractions.

You may have your own version of how to use three as a central focus for getting organized.  But I highly recommend using it to keep you focused on just the right number of things to work on at one time as you seek “Truth, Justice and The American Way”*.

*Clark Kent (aka Superman)


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