Read Summary

The authors of Getting to It! show us how to eliminate distractions and concentrate on the projects that make us more successful — and happy.


Because of our work in the training field, we encounter many people who are overburdened at work. They tell us about their current workload, and then mention other important upcoming activities. They then remember all the smaller tasks that dot their plates like peas. We typically allow them to vent for a while before asking, “What are you paid to do?” They rarely respond, “Everything I just told you.” To better define this component, try this exercise:

Step 1

Dust off your job description and review your most recent evaluation. Identify four or five things the organization pays you to do — and presumably do well. All the other employment-related items in your funnel can take a number and sit down. If you focus on those essential four or five items and give them enough attention to do them well, the other to-dos may not matter in the larger context. If you’re focused on too many nonessential tasks, the result might be that the four or five tasks you were hired to do don’t get completed, or at least don’t get completed as well as they might be if you gave them your all.

Step 2

This strategy also applies to the other roles in your life. What are the three or four things that you can do as a parent, neighbor, volunteer, baseball coach, Sunday school teacher, gardener, son-in-law, dancer and so on, that make the greatest impact? Three or four key things are doable. Ten or 12 items can be overwhelming.

Remember: The business guru and former General Electric CEO Jack Welch once said, “If someone tells me, ‘I’m working 90 hours a week,’ I tell them, ‘You’re doing something terribly wrong. I go skiing on the weekend. I go out with my buddies on Friday… Make a list of 20 things that make your work 90 hours, and 10 of them have to be nonsense.”

This adapted excerpt was taken from Getting to It! Accomplishing the Important, Handling the Urgent, and Removing the Unnecessary by Jones Loflin and Todd Musig. Copyright © 2013 by Jones Loflin and Todd Musig. Reprinted courtesy of Harper Business, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

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