Steve Jobs had a simple hack to help Apple focus and achieve, and it can be used to help you or your company do the same as well.
In a 2007 off-site meeting with about 200 Yahoo execs, Jobs told the struggling internet company’s team that while many companies make a list of 10 things they want to achieve in a year, “the smart companies will take the list and shrink it to three or four items,” according to Business Insider’s Nicholas Carlson in “Marissa Mayer and the Fight to Save Yahoo!”
Jobs explained to the Yahoo execs:
“This is how I do it. I take a sheet of paper, and I say, ‘If my company can only do one thing next year, what is it?’ Literally, we shut everything else down.”
According to Jobs’ biographer Walter Isaacson in the Harvard Business Review, Jobs used the strategy on the last day of his annual “top 100” retreats with Apple’s leadership:
“… he would stand in front of a whiteboard (he loved whiteboards, because they gave him complete control of a situation and they engendered focus) and ask, ‘What are the 10 things we should be doing next?’ People would fight to get their suggestions on the list. Jobs would write them down—and then cross off the ones he decreed dumb. After much jockeying, the group would come up with a list of 10. Then Jobs would slash the bottom seven and announce, ‘We can only do three.’
By cutting down your list of things to achieve like Jobs did, you can help hone your focus to tackling a few things with all your energy instead of spreading yourself thin trying to achieve too many objectives and perhaps accomplishing none.