What Warren Buffett Taught Me About Being More Productive

Let’s talk about arguably the most productive man on the planet: Warren Buffet. You can challenge me as to why he should be considered the most productive, but you can’t argue about this man’s earnings. My barometer for productivity is how much money he makes per every hour he is awake.. This puts him head and shoulders above you, me, and everyone else reading this article.

The story goes like this: Mr. Buffet was traveling back from a long business trip when his pilot asked him for advice on a potential career move. Mr. Buffet asked him to list the 10 most important goals he would like to achieve in the next year. So over the course of the flight – when the pilot could easily put the plane in autopilot and work on the assignment – he jotted a list of 10 of the most important goals and shared them with Mr. Buffet.

“Great job,” said Mr. Buffet. “Now divide the list into two smaller lists: list A and list B.” In list A Mr. Buffet asked the pilot to write down his top 3 items he’s looking to achieve and in list B, the remainder. The pilot followed suit and shared the two lists.

(if you kids are following along at home don’t move onto the next step until you have both of your lists…)

…seriously, I’ll wait…

“Excellent” Mr. Buffet said. . “Now that you have your two lists, what do you suppose you should do?” Mr. Buffet asked. Feeling quite confident at this point, the pilot boasted a response. “I will work very hard at list A, and when I have some free time, I will work on items in list B.”

“No, no, no!” Exclaimed Mr. Buffet. ” List B is your ‘avoid at all costs’ list. These are your biggest distractors from achieving your most meaningful goals,” said Mr. Buffet. The pilot mulled this over. “I don’t understand, the items in list B are also goals I’d like to achieve this year?” Mr. Buffet explained, “but they are not your top three goals in list A, therefore they will pull your focus away from what is important.”


So what I’ve learned from this story and in my own personal life is to establish 3 laser-focused goals. I’ve decided to allocate a primary goal for each area of my life:

  1. Personal goal (run X marathon, hike Y trail, watch Z sports game).
  2. Family goal (travel to X country, buy Y car, etc).
  3. Business goal (ex X increase in revenue, hire Y programmers, move to Z office, etc).

Each year since I’ve worked completely at these goals I’ve hit them. Again, these are big goals. Goals that will require 12 months of dedication o achieve. As difficult as they may be, these are goals I can achieve, and so can you.

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