Three. That’s the number of things from a set list you can prioritise on any one day. Choose; focus; and give your all – rather than trying (and failing) to do everything well. Sound intriguing?This is the theory behind Randi Zuckerberg’s new book/treatise, Pick Three: You Can Have It All (Just Not Everyday). And she should know: the CEO of Zuckerberg Media, editor-in-chief of Dot Complicated, a former director at Facebook (she’s Mark Zuckerberg’s older sister), is also a wife and mother of two young children. (And you thought you were busy…)
I stumbled across a review of her book here – and then again in Red magazine (the new issue is just a beauty). Could it, I ask myself, be this simple? That the impossible standards we’ve set ourselves are just that: impossible. So do less, but do it better.
Zuckerberg’s thesis is simple. She divides life into five priority areas: family, friends, sleep, work, fitness. Every day you pick three to focus on – and you do them as brilliantly as you can. So if you’re with your kids – you’re really with them, in the moment, not checking your phone whilst building a Lego castle. If you’re head down in the middle of a project, then that’s your focus.
The beauty of this is that you don’t waste time feeling guilty about the other things you “should” be doing – you can focus on those tomorrow or the next day. And it’s okay to say “today, I’m putting work first” (something, Zuckerberg points out, women tend to struggle with considerably more than men). I’m really busy with work at the moment – and I’ve been feeling guilty about not being with my children enough: cancelling my weekly cake date with my daughter and nearly missing her show because I was in a meeting on the other side of London; not spending half term with them; not going out with friends because I need to work in the evenings (and get a decent night’s sleep so I have the energy and brain power to work). So I actually find this really helpful: right now, my head’s down on the work front, but that’s just a phase. And at the weekend, we really immersed ourselves in family time – and we’ll do it again this weekend. Tomorrow, I’m going out with a girlfriend (after working late!) for a quick supper.
Because – crucial point coming – your Three shouldn’t remain the same over a long period of time. Fine to prioritise Fitness when you’re training to run a marathon (for instance) or Work when you’re in the middle of a big project/promotion, but keep track of your Picks so you can ascertain that you’re giving them the same focus over time. (Flagging now that Fitness gets way too little love from me…) Ergo, balance is born.
I don’t know about you – but I find this pretty liberating.