STYLE Savvy: The Big Three


About a month ago, I started using a strategy I’m calling the Big 3. Each day, I decide which three things are my top priorities for the day, and then I write them down.

And you know what? This one’s a keeper.

If you’re like me, you’ve tried any number of strategies when it comes to organization and time management, only to abandon some of them even before the ink was dry on the note you wrote to yourself. Some are too complicated, others too time-consuming. And then, of course, there’s the biggest flaw of all.

The plan doesn’t fit your styles.

I started the Big 3 because I have a tendency to never be satisfied with what I accomplish. I focus too much on what I’ve left undone, and not enough on what I’ve accomplished. Or, I swing from one extreme to the other, overdoing it one day and crashing the next. I needed a strategy that would even things out, helping me to establish a steady flow of successes. Successes are, after all, the foundation of STYLE.

I’m happy to report that, one month in, the Big 3 is working quite well. Some days, I’ve even been tempted to expand it to the Big 5, because, after all, if 3 is good, isn’t 5 better?

Um, no. No, it’s not.

The purpose of the Big 3 was to increase the likelihood that I’d not only accomplish what I set out to do, but also that I’d have time to do other things — maybe even fun things — as well. When something is working, don’t stretch it to the breaking point. Adapt, if you must, but don’t ruin a perfectly good strategy by pushing it beyond its limits — or pushing yourself beyond your limits.

Like so many strategies, the Big 3 arose over time, in response to a problem I identified in my own life. Consequently, I set it up so it would fit me and my needs.

Could the Big 3 work for you? Maybe. But adapting someone else’s idea wholesale isn’t always the best plan.

I love this idea, but maybe you won’t.

You might prefer a different number, or, you might like writing down the most important thing, and planning your day around it.

You might like focusing on just two things — one for early in the day and one for later in the day.

Perhaps you’re more of a backwards to-do list person, or, conversely,  you survive on one big, long list that includes everything you need to accomplish for the foreseeable future.

Whatever plan you set up, remember to be realistic. Writing focused goals is helpful, but it doesn’t add more hours to the day or more spring to your step. If you’re not in the mood to put something on the top of the list today and it doesn’t have an immediate deadline, save it for tomorrow.

Finally, don’t forget to put the fun stuff on your list from time to time. I have a stack of to-be-read books that never seems to shrink because I don’t make reading a priority. Yesterday, I listed reading as one of my Big 3, giving me an excuse to walk right past other tasks so I could curl up with my book.

Whatever you do, let your styles be your guide.

Copyright 2017 Lisa Hess


About Author

Lisa Lawmaster Hess has contributed articles to local, national and online publications, and blogs at The Porch Swing Chronicles, The Susquehanna Writers and here at She is the author of two non-fiction books (Acting Assertively and Diverse Divorce) and two novels, Casting the First Stone and Chasing a Second Chance. A retired elementary school counselor, Lisa is a lecturer in psychology at York College and enjoys singing with the contemporary choir at her church.

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