The Art of Prioritization: The 2-List Rule

Apr 29, 2024

The Art of Prioritizing 

Part of the secret to living a happy life is knowing what to focus on and what to forget about.

It’s been that way since the dawn of time. 

But it’s made MUCH more difficult in a modern society that constantly bombards us with messages that we can “have it all” if we just hustle hard enough. 

Wake up at 5 am, crush it at work, have an amazing family life, get shredded at the gym, start a side business, learn French. . . the endless to-do list goes on and on.

But here’s the tough truth — you CAN’T actually have it all.

At least not all at the same time. . .

Prioritizing EVERYTHING means prioritizing NOTHING. 

I’m NOT saying you can’t have big goals and an ambitious vision for your life.

You absolutely can and should

But you need to get realistic about what’s truly essential and what can wait.

You need to learn a life lesson in prioritizing from a master of the art: Warren Buffet.

bullseye with an arrow sticking in it

Prioritizing: The 2 -List Rule 

The legendary Warren Buffett saw through the “I can have it all” delusion long ago with his brilliant 2 List Rule. 

Let’s have a look at how it works:

Sorting the Priorities

Okay here goes:

Make one list with 25 goals, dreams, priorities — whatever lofty ambitions you’ve got swirling around upstairs.

Next, evaluate that categorized list and pick the 5 things that are the highest priority — they’ll be the things that you feel will have most currency in achieving your goals

When you’ve identified them, prioritize them over EVERYTHING else.

As for those other 20 items? 

Here are the cold hard facts:

They’re nice ideas and probably valuable in their own right BUT they’re not right for RIGHT NOW.

If you pursue them, all you’ll be doing is spreading the load and diluting your efforts in your top priority areas.

You need to let go of the majority so you can focus on the minority.

So stick them on the backburner and don’t go near them AT ALL.

And that last part is important.

Work SOLELY on the 5 priorities you’ve selected.

That’s it. 

I told you it’s simple!

The Learning: Supercharging Productivity

You can’t just add “becoming a millionaire” to your highest priorities alongside “getting shredded” and “reading 50 books.”

You’ll likely fail at all of them because you’re too busy feeling unaccomplished and overwhelmed by the lack of prioritization.

The path to greatness always requires trade-offs — and smart prioritization.

Speak to anyone whose ‘made it’ and they’ll tell you the same.

 Making meaningful and persistent progress towards your goals means:

  • Acknowledging you can’t realistically have it all as your top priority, at least not all at once
  • Making sacrifices by deprioritizing less important goals
  • Get good at saying “no” to things that aren’t an urgent priority
  • Only focussing on important tasks

That’s the price of admission for making your biggest dreams and highest priorities an actual reality.

man climbing a mountain

Strategy vs Intention

Buffett understood the harsh truths about prioritization and he developed a simple but powerful strategy, which is why he became ridiculously successful.

There’s no reason you can’t be, too.

As you’ve heard me say before:

Strategy beats intention — EVERY TIME.

If you want to be as successful as someone else, find out what they did and how, then replicate it. 

Okay, I know: That’s obviously not true in all cases, and I doubt any of us will be as successful as Warren Buffet.

But you never know

One sure thing is that if you take his advice and start implementing the 2-List rule today, you’ve got a better chance than ever before.

The Choice

The truth is: You can’t have your cake and get shredded while eating it too.

So, you have to ask yourself:

Do I want the same old life of continuous disappointment and mediocrity?

Or do I want to clear the way for a real shot at greatness?

If you’re shooting for the second option, you’d better start prioritizing with urgency.

The choice of precisely HOW to prioritize is yours.


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