three most important tasks

Top Three Tasks



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Chapter Eight: The Law of Three

Theodor Roosevelt once said, “Do what you can, with what you have, right where you are.”

There are three core tasks that you perform that contain most of the value that you contribute to your business or organization.

Your ability to accurately identify these three key tasks and then to focus on them most of the time is essential for you to achieve at your best.

True Story of Cynthia

Let me tell you a true story.

Three months after her first full-day coaching session with me in San Diego, Cynthia stood up and told the group a story.

She said, “When I came here ninety days ago, you claimed that you would show me how to double my income and double my time off within twelve months.

This sounded completely unrealistic, but I was willing to give it a try.”

List of Tasks

She went on. “On the first day, you asked me to write down a list of everything that I did over the course of a week or a month. I came up with seventeen tasks that I was responsible for.”

Overwhelmed with Work

“My problem was that I was completely overwhelmed with work. I was working ten to twelve hours per day, six days per week, and not spending enough time with my husband and two young children.

But I did not see any way out.”

“I had been working for eight years for a fast-growing entrepreneurial company in the high-tech area. But these always seemed to be an overwhelming amount of work to do.

And never enough time.”

One Thing All Day Long

Well she continued with her story.

She said, “Once I had made up this list, you then told me to ask this question: ‘If you could do only one thing on this list all day long, which ONE task would contribute the greatest value to your company?’

Once I had identified that task, which was quite easy, I put a circle around that number.”

Second and Third Tasks

“You then asked, ‘If you could do only one more thing on you list of key tasks, which would be the second activity that contributes the most value to your company?’

Once I had identified the second most important task, you asked me the same question with regard to the third most important task.

You then said something that shocked me at the time.”

90/10 Rule

“You said that fully 90% of the value that you contribute to your company is contained in those three tasks, whatever they are.

Everything else you do is either a support task or a complementary task that could probably be delegated, downsized, outsourced or eliminated.”

Three Most Important Tasks

Cynthia continued with her story.

“As I looked at the three tasks, I realized that these were the three things that I did that contributed the most value to my company.

This was on Friday.”

Double Double

“On Monday morning at 10 o’clock, I met with my boss and explained to him what I had discovered. I told him that I needed his help in delegating and outsourcing all my work except for those three key tasks.

I felt that if I could work on those three tasks exclusively, all day long, I could more than double my contribution to the company.

Then I said to him that if I doubled my contribution, I would like to be paid twice as much.”


She said, “My boss was completely silent. He looked at my list of key tasks…looked back at me, look at the list again…and then said, ‘Okay’.

It was now 10:21 a.m. according to the clock on the wall behind him.”

“He said, ‘You’re right. These are the three most important things that you do that you contribute to the company and they’re the three things you do the best.

Delegate, Downsize, Outsource

I will help you to delegate and downsize all these other minor tasks to free you up to work full-time on these three key tasks.

And if you double your contribution, I will pay you twice as much.’”

He did. I did. He did.

Cynthia concluded her story by saying this. “He did…and then I did…then he did.

He helped me delegate and assign my minor tasks so I could concentrate on my top three jobs. As a result, I doubled my output over the next thirty days.

And he doubled my income.”

Transformed My Life

She said, “I had been working very hard for more than eight years, and I doubled my income in just one month by focusing all my time and energy on my three key tasks.

Not only that, instead of working ten and twelve hour days, I work from 8:00 to 5:00 and spend time in the evenings and on the weekends with my husband and my children.

Focusing on my key tasks has transformed my life.”

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1. Should people try to do as many different tasks as possible or a maximum of three?

2. The speaker used a person as an example. True or false?

3. What was the “double-double” claim?

4. What was the first step? The first step is to….

5. What was Cynthia’s dilemma or problem? Her problem was that….

6. He asked conditional questions. What were the conditional questions?

7. What does 90% refer to in this context?

8. What should you do with tasks 4, 5, 6, etc?

9. What two things did Cynthia ask her boss? She asked her boss….

10. What happened in the end?
A. Do employees in your company work on many different tasks; or do they focus and concentrate on a few (1, 2, 3) tasks?

B. Make a list of all the different tasks that you do.

C. What is the most important task that contributes the most to your company?

D. What would happen if you delegated and outsourced all your minor tasks and focused on only the top three important tasks?

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