A fine lawyer and an even better friend, Jonathan Bobbitt, sent an article around the office this morning that reminded me of something very important - the value of knowing your priorities, and, just as importantly, possessing the ability to disregard the unimportant. The article was written by Peter Bregman, and is entitled "Two Lists You Should Look at Every Morning." Those two lists are (1) your focus list; and (2) your ignore list. An excerpt,
Some people already have the first list. Very few have the second. But given how easily we get distracted and how many distractions we have these days, the second is more important than ever. The leaders who will continue to thrive in the future know the answers to these questions and each time there's a demand on their attention they ask whether it will further their focus or dilute it.
Which means you shouldn't create these lists once and then put them in a drawer. These two lists are your map for each day. Review them each morning, along with your calendar, and ask: what's the plan for today? Where will I spend my time? How will it further my focus? How might I get distracted? Then find the courage to follow through, make choices, and maybe disappoint a few people.
The rigorous demands of practicing law, and life in general, simply require you to prioritize your time and energies in order to be efficient and effective. With emails blasting across your Outlook inbox at an ever increasing pace, it is incredibly easy to lose focus in the shuffle. So have the courage to close Outlook from time to time, and focus on the things that deserve your time. When I exercise the discipline it takes to do that, those often turn out to be my most productive days.