Why You Should Probably Start Neglecting Your Goals

Adopting a strategy of intentional neglect towards non-essential tasks can surprisingly be an effective way to stay focused and achieve your major goals
Why You Should Probably Start Neglecting Your Goals

Sometimes neglecting your goals can be a path to achieving them.

Sound crazy? Hear me out.

If you keep any sort of punch list of things you need to do then it’s probably become a dumping ground for tasks.

I struggle with this constantly and my solution has been to periodically declare “Task Management Tool Bankruptcy”, delete everything and start over with a new project management tool. 

I suppose this can be defined as “neglect”, but I’ve discovered an equally neglectful, yet effective, approach to actually achieving your big goals.

Let’s walk through an example.

If you’re like me, you usually have 2-3 “high priority” items on your punch list at any given time - these are the big goals that really push things forward and take precedent over everything else.

Then there are about 10-15 “middle priority” items - things that are important or time sensitive but definitely not the goals that require your immediate attention.

Lastly, there are 50+ items I like to classify as “someday”, “on my radar”, or “low hanging fruit”. These items are perfect for when you have a little extra time to do something.

When you sit down to work, where do you start?

If you’re like me, you’ll want to jump into a “high priority” item.

But then a phone call from a business parter comes in that you really need to take.

And then you get an email from the city about some permits you’ve been waiting to hear back on and want to respond to immediately.

And then you get a shipping notification from Amazon about the 12 boxes of furniture that were just delivered to your front doorstep for your vacation rental project.

And then … you get the picture. 

It’s now 5:30, you’re trying to wrap up and while you feel like you got a lot done, your big goals remain largely untouched.

Does this sound familiar?

If it doesn’t, please reach out and teach me your solution!

Anyway, here is my strategy for staying on track.

I neglect everything that isn’t the one or two things I should be focusing my attention on.

I neglect it all.

I turn off my email, my phone and any other way someone may try and contact me.

I shut down Asana, Slack, and my web browser to minimize distraction.

Most importantly, I completely go out of my way to neglect those “middle priority” items. These items are our biggest productivity killers and should be avoided at all cost.

Let me be clear - this doesn’t mean they aren’t important. Quite the contrary, they are so important that they will relentlessly distract you from your big goals.

And that is why they need to be neglected.

“You need to learn to start saying no to things you DO want to do, with the recognition that you have only one life, and you don’t have time and energy for everything.” — Elizabeth Gilbert

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