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Blocking off scheduled time for your top priority work is game-changing.

A friend recently asked me, “What do you do when your high-impact projects keep getting interrupted by last-minute requests?”

The questions below help me grapple with this inevitable challenge:

#1 Is it truly urgent? — If you have two projects of equal importance and one is truly more urgent, then you absolutely should do it first. That said, projects often have arbitrary deadlines. Asking “If that deadline is not possible, is there a next best date?” can often buy significant time without doing any harm.

#2 Is it truly important? — There will always be more to do than can be done. It is easy to get distracted by projects that are high urgency and low importance. If achieving or missing a deadline won’t have a significant impact, is it worth letting something minor slide so you can progress on the opportunities that have the potential to transform your organization? …


My Beloit College Professor Jerry Gustafson first got me started on startups and dramatically changed the trajectory of my life for the better. With the profound insight that we were more likely to achieve our life goals if we knew what they were, Jerry assigned our class the weighty task of writing our desired obituaries. It was both the most challenging and most valuable homework of my entire formal education.

A few years ago, my Uncle Tom passed away suddenly. The religious officiant had to guess what final messages our dearly departed wanted to share with the funeral attendees. It made me wonder, “If these gems of wisdom and adoration are important, why do we keep them secret until after we are gone? We never know when we will get hit by a literal or proverbial bus. …


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When I was launching my first startup, I was curious about what life was like working at a “normal” company. I asked my friend employed by a Fortune 500, “What is the worst and best thing about working at a big corporation?

My friend told me, “The worst thing is, you can do a great job and it won’t matter. No one will notice. You can really apply yourself and get fantastic results and it won’t make any difference.”

I asked him, “Then what is the best thing about working at a big corporation?

The best thing is, you can do a terrible job and it won’t matter. No one will notice. You can slack off and do the bare minimum and it won’t make any difference.” …

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