June 24, 2022

Work Backward

“Every day is different, and some days are better than others, but no matter how challenging the day, I get up and live it.”
― Muhammad Ali

It’s easy to say you want to stay focused. Doing it, well, that’s another matter.

Every day presents new distractions:

  • I need to buy eggs.
  • Ooh! Check out this website!
  • What’s trending on Twitter?
  • Did you see what happened in the stock market?
  • 652 unread emails?!
  • I can’t believe what the president did!
  • Oh, good. My favorite newsletter.
  • I wonder if Netflix has any new shows?
  • What should I make for dinner?

So how can anybody stay focused?


Work backward.

Let me explain.

Instead of planning what you need to do next, focus on the end state. Then figure out the step before the end, the one before that, and so on. Eventually, you’ll find what you should focus on today.

That step you just discovered is your next important task. Anything not on that path is a distraction.

Sure, you need to do necessary things, like buy eggs, but make sure you get the important tasks done each day. Do them first, if possible.

When you finish a task, reevaluate your path. Do you need to make any course corrections? Did completing this step reveal any new paths forward?

Stay focused, and you’ll progress 10X faster.