The 3 questions to ask yourself every two hours

Eugene Polonsky
3 min readJan 14, 2021
Photo by Ameer Basheer on Unsplash

Randomization kills.

Going on tangents kills too.

I see this as a manager all the time, when dealing with ambiguous tasks, it’s all too easy to go off on a tangent that seems important at the time but, on further reflection, probably isn’t.

An inability to stay on task is one of the most common and most effective ways of stunting your career growth.

Here’s an easy way to stay on track. Ask yourself the following three questions first thing in the morning, after lunch, and at the end of your workday.

1. What is my highest-priority goal today

Note the question isn’t “What is my highest-priority task?”

The key word is goal.

The difference between a task and a goal is that a goal is higher-level. A goal typically consists of several tasks.

You should, at any given moment, know what your highest-priority goal is. If you don’t, ask your manager.

<brief aside> As an aside, your manager should be assigning goals, not tasks. Here’s the difference:

Goal: We need a way to track our application’s crash rate in the wild.

Task: Please integrate the CrashTracker library into our product.

One gives you a sense of ownership over the solution. The other doesn’t.

Make sure your manager is giving you goals. </brief aside>

Sometimes you have several high priority goals. Which one is the most important? That’s the one you should be working on.

2. Is what I’m doing right now directly related to that goal?

There should be no ambiguity here: your current task is either directly related or it isn’t. Be honest with yourself, and don’t pre-judge the answer.

In other words, at this stage, both yes or no are acceptable answers. There could be a very good reason why you’re doing something not directly related to your highest-priority goal. (A high-urgency, short-term ask for example. Or your co-worker came in asking for help. Etc etc.)

Eugene Polonsky

Eugene Polonsky is a 24-year veteran in the IT field. When not writing about management, he runs a team at IMDb, plays with his kids, and writes bad fiction.