Updated July 4, 2023
Be Among The Top
Being among the top refers to being in a high-ranking position of excellence or achievement in a particular field. This can refer to being one of the highest performers in a particular institution, having excellent skills or understanding in a particular subject or profession. Being among the top may also involve being recognized for one’s contributions, achievements, or impact in a particular field or domain. It can be an indicator of success, prestige, and respect within a given community or industry.
In this age of excessive information and uncountable choices, we often suffer from analysis paralysis. But success is all about fundamentals. All you need to do is follow a single thing, and then if you can stick to it (the hardest quite often), you will create massive results for yourself.
You may wonder about that one thing that will help you reach among the top 1% in your career and life. Yes, that one thing is this – your ability to focus on one thing at a time.
Peter Drucker’s Story
As a kid, Management Guru Peter Drucker always strived for perfection. He learned early that it should be at least near to perfection, if not perfect at all. But how would you tend toward perfection if you don’t know how to focus? Thus he created a system for himself when he was a law student.
He decided that every 3 or 4 years, he would pick a new subject and study it with utmost sincerity and dedication. He continued this practice till his death. And guess what? He is the Father of Modern Management.
This is the power of focusing on a single thing.
You may think that Peter Drucker can do it, but can I?
The answer is – Yes. You can.
How does single tasking affect your career?
If you’ve been a professional for a few years or just joined an organization, your ability to focus on one thing at a time will significantly affect your career and the results you create.
You will be advised to do multiple things at a time. But our brain can’t work in that way. If you want to be among the top 1% with the results you love, do one thing at a time and then do another.
For example, suppose you’re currently working on a few projects. And your boss wants you to complete them as soon as possible. As there’s a time crunch, you don’t know how to deliver these three projects, which you must finish within a deadline. Here’s what you should do.
First, choose a project that has the most impact on your organization. If you don’t know, go and ask your boss. Your boss may not tell you. But persist and request that it will help you prioritize your work better. Once you know which will have the maximum impact on the organization, pick that up and finish off. Don’t scatter your focus; don’t go to any other project, even if you feel tempted to.
Do the same with the other projects as well.
If you follow this simple method, you will see that your results will double and triple with just a simple tweak in how you work on projects.
How to be among the top 1%?
To be able to focus on one thing at a time, there are a few things you should follow. Here’s what you should do, step by step.
#1. Write everything down
The idea is to put everything down on paper. Don’t keep anything in your brain. Write everything down. But what would you write about? You need to write about everything you want to do in your career. It’s not your goal. But it’s who you want to be in 10, 20, 30 years. To be able to chunk down to one thing at a time, we need a larger perspective so that you can connect the dots and concentrate. No, it doesn’t need to be a perfect one. You can change it as you go. For now, all we want you to do is write down your ambitions, wishes, visions, career aspirations, and qualifications you have. It’s your life in a few pages. Take one hour and do this exercise before going to the next step.
#2. “Let go” list
This is the hard reality, and this would probably be the hardest thing you need to do. If you’re a writer, you may want to write about everything – fiction, non-fiction, poetry, prose, screenplays, short stories, etc. But if you write everything about everything, you will become just another writer in the corner. But if you want to be someone revered in their career, choose one-two thing or subject on which you will concentrate. This applies to anything and in any profession.
Constantly changing your focus throughout your career will not be a good option for anyone who wants to be among the top 1%. So, here’s what you need to do. You need to take a red pen and cut the things which can’t stand out among the best. It’s tough and will take some time. Take your time and choose only the best ones. The best ones mean the things you are sure that you want to do. Thus, you need to let go of the good ones as well.
#3. Make a fresh list of “to-do”
Once you cut back all those items on your list which are good enough, it’s time to put the best ones on a list. Make sure this list should not contain more than 10 items. Yes, 10 would be enough. The reason we’re describing this process in such a manner is that focus can’t come without having a big picture. You won’t be able to focus on one thing if you don’t know why you’re focusing. So having a big picture will help you bring in that focus on one thing at a time.
#4. Find out “WHY”
As you now have a list of “to do,” it’s time to discover why you want to achieve these things. Write down why you want to accomplish each item on the list. For example, suppose you’ve written that you want to write a book on Operations Management. On the right-hand side of this item, write down why you want to write this book. What purpose will it serve? What do you want it to create for you? If you can’t answer, go to the next item and try asking the same questions.
#5. Set a Deadline
It’s time to set a deadline for each one of the items you listed. Divide the items into 1 year, 3 years, 5 years, 10 years, and 20 years. Setting up a timeline will help you decide your priorities. For example, if you think writing the operations management book will take 4-5 years, write 5 years on the right-hand side.
#6. Come to “NOW”
Now, choose the first thing you will start working on. Which one would it be? Start with this question – “Which one/s among these 2-3 items am I ready to let go of now?” And reflect on the question. If you have a pen and paper, write it down. Which one can you let go of, and which one can’t? Whatever you can’t let go of, pick that one and start working on that right away.
#7. Focus on one thing
If you have done all the exercises above, you will notice that you used a funnel-like process to reach this point. And this is the result of it. Everyone loves a great career and wants to create massive results. But very few are ready to put in the effort to create clarity in their mind. Once you’re clear about it, it’s time to concentrate on this task at hand. Follow the below steps –
- Whatever item you want to work on first from the list, chunk it down to 100 steps. You would ask – Why 100? As we always think of 100% to identify the completion of a project, it’s better to call it 100 steps.
- Write down all the steps in a separate sheet.
- Write down the steps in sequence.
- Make the steps small enough to handle them in one or two sittings.
- Now start working on the first step.
If you follow this step-by-step process, you can create results that will astound you.
Then what’s the one thing which will help you be among the top 1% in your career? You’re right – your ability to focus on one thing at a time. But you can’t achieve that focus until you have a big picture in your mind and unless you know the outcome of single-tasking.
In the final analysis, we can say that this is the single most important thing you can do in your career to be among the top 1%, whether you’re starting or you already have a few years of experience in your pocket.
Follow this process and determine what you should focus on right now. The thing you decide to focus on may not match with others or even your micromanager boss. Thus, choose projects that will help you achieve the focus you want, to be among the top 1%. This process may take some time. But invest this time into your career, and you will see the results.