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Rule of 3: This Could Change Your Life
It's simple. The "Rule of 3" is the ultimate planning tool--a way to increase your productivity that allows you to work with deliberate focus instead of reacting to whatever is thrown your way.

From eating to email, find out the top 10 productivity killers at work.

Chris Bailey, the author of "The Productivity Project: Accomplishing More by Managing Your Time, Attention, and Energy," explains how the Rule of 3 works: At the beginning of your day, decide the three things you most want to accomplish by the end of the day. Also do this for your week, month, quarter and year.

"Productivity isn't about doing more things," says Bailey. "It's about doing the right things."

And that means there is no place on your desk for a daily to-do list. Why? Let's say you have 16 items on your list. The more you check off, or so you think, the greater your productivity. But the reality is that some of the jobs are easy and others quite complex. Doing just the easy ones isn't productive--no matter how many boxes get checked off.

Jeremy Anderberg, managing editor of the blog The Art of Manliness who uses and writes about the Rule of 3, advises you to think about the things you can do that will add the most value to your company and then work to produce those outcomes.

You may want to create a Rule of 3 for the year and then break each of the three items into manageable steps that will be accomplished quarterly, monthly, weekly and daily. "Productivity is not about the amount of tasks you marked off, but whether you did the right things and got done the important, intended tasks that will add value to your business," says Anderberg.

If you follow the Rule of 3, you will give those tasks your full attention and best energy. It will keep you on track and not make you as susceptible to other people's fire drills.

Anderberg says the Rule of 3 is simple enough that we can actually do it--every single day. The only trick is learning to effectively prioritize the three most important things you must accomplish. He advises you to go old school and write your Rule of 3 tasks on paper. Make sure you take time to reflect at the end of the day/week/month about how you did. Tweek your goals as needed if you find you were too ambitious or not ambitious enough.

Bonus: You can use the Rule of 3 in your personal life, too.

Find out the No. 1 secret of productivity. (Hint: It's all a matter of focus. That means you should never do THIS.)

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