Sheryl Sandberg Just Gave Some Brilliant Career Advice. Here It Is in 2 Words

I want you to think about the following question, because it can mean the difference between just getting through the day at work, and doing the best work of your life.

What’s the most important thing you can get done today?

Sheryl Sandberg recently spoke to Inc. to share some lessons learned over the years. One concept she spoke about really resonated with me.

It’s called:

Ruthless prioritization.

“I think the most important thing we’ve learned as we’ve grown is that we have to prioritize,” said Sandberg. “We talk about it as ruthless prioritization. And by that what we mean is only do the very best of the ideas. Lots of times you have very good ideas. But they’re not as good as the most important thing you could be doing. And you have to make the hard choices.”

Amen, Sheryl.

Why Ruthless Prioritization Is the Key to Great Work

If you’re anything like me, you like to make lists: idea lists, task lists, lists of people I need to talk to.

The sense of accomplishment that comes from crossing an item off the list just feels so great.

The problem, though, is it’s easy to get distracted by lists. In a world that glorifies production, we often tend to focus on getting as much done as we can…

But are those the things we should be doing? Will they provide the greatest return on our most important investment–our time?

According to Sandberg, ruthless prioritization doesn’t mean getting all 10 things on your list done.

It means, figuring out which 5 you can do really well, and then following through.

“It’s a hard lesson for us because we’re always trying to do more,” she says. “But it’s one we’ve really tried to stick to as we’ve grown.”

If you’re prioritizing for yourself (as opposed to a team), even five things can be too many.

How come?

Because you can really only focus on one thing at a time–at least, if you want to reach maximum quality. If you always start with the easiest or most convenient ideas in an effort to get everything done, you’ll end up pushing the…

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