Warren Buffet’s Secret to Managing Stress

3 Pruning prioritiesNow that you have created some time and space, I bet you are getting excited and thinking “hey, I can get everything done, now!” And jump into creating a to-do list and a very looooong list… in no time flat too.

Am I right?

And the trap you can fall into is the “easy trap”… focusing on the easy tasks first, seeking the instant gratification of checking something off your to-do list. This can cause us to continually put off the more daunting tasks, most of the time the most important tasks, until you find that they never actually get anything done at all!

I know for me personally, if you walk in my house and it’s spotless, the laundry is done, floors mopped, and the yard is dog turd free…you can bet I’m procrastinating about something! Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a messy person, but there is clean, and then there is I’m-putting-something-off clean.

So, just because you are busy doesn’t actually mean you are meaningful busy. You can have too much going on and not enough happening that will leave you spinning your wheels and getting nowhere fast.

But when you have so many things that are important left to do, how do you know what to focus on first?

Is your to-do list stressing you out?

If you’re like me, once you get into this routine of creating a to-do list and checking off the easy items first, it’s hard to break. And before you know it, you’re left right back to square one. In the same time-crunched and hectic state you started in.

Lets break the cycle and really get the wheels in motion!

And the simplest way to do this is knowing where to start.

The 80-20 Rule

This rule explains that 20% of your task list is vital to moving you forward or relieving your stress, and 80% is not. But how can you spot the 20% that should get done first?

Here’s a simple 3 step process to get your booty in gear. You can use this simple exercise for any time frame you want (months, weeks, days or even hours).

  1. Write out the tasks you would like to accomplish. If you are looking at say a 3 month to one year time period, list out 25 things. If you are planning a one day task list, list 10 tasks. Remember, whatever goes on this list must meet your WHY filter and pass the Cutting the Crap test (don’t let anything sneak back in!).
  2. Looking at your list, pick the 20% that is vital to accomplish now. For your list of 25, that means 5. For your list of 10, that means 2.
  3. Pick one of these vital tasks to start with first, and get to work!

So what about that other 80%?

This list just became your Avoid-At-All-Cost list. Meaning, avoid these tasks or activities until your initial 20% is done. Exercise discipline to make this happen and practice consistency. This is where turning off email, phones, TVs, social media can be helpful in limiting distractions.

And.. if you get the first 20% done, repeat the process and identify your next 20%.

You’ll feel like a rockstar when you stop looking at an endlessly long list of “could do’s” and feeling like you are spinning your wheels, but rather get ruthless about focusing on the “should do’s” that will create the biggest impact on your time and energy. (Its not like that dog poop is going anywhere anyways!)

Summing it up:

When you get good at pruning your priorities and focusing only on the vital 20%, you will be stunned by how effective you become. Bonus! Your stress levels will drop as you knock out the really important stuff!

So, look at what’s left on your to do list after the Cutting the Crap exercise.

  1. Pick the vital 20% to focus on.
  2. Pick one task to do first.

Now, you’re well on your way to really knocking some stuff of the list, and hey, you didn’t even need 5 cups of coffee to get it done! Your heart will thank you.

Life’s short. So, make shi(f)t happen!


PS. Know someone who could use a little kick in the “grass”? Send them this post.

About The Author


Whitney, author of the forthcoming book "Making Your Shi(f)t Happen: A 6 week bootcamp to prioritize, organize, and simplify your life", helps professionals get waaaay more done in far less time (with far less stress), so they can get back to the important things in life. She is a wife, mom and lifestyle strategist. Grab her FREE videos here.