In a recent interview with CNN, Sheryl Sandberg got real about her schedule. As Facebook's Chief Operating Officer – and Mark Zuckerberg's right-hand woman – you can imagine that she has a lot on her plate. But this businesswoman has one way she keeps her priorities in check.
"I strongly believe in ruthless prioritization," she said.
And while most of us may think "prioritizing" our career or business means making time to put those things first, Sandberg says that ruthless prioritization takes selectively using your time to another level.
"Sometimes people think of prioritization as only doing things that will have a positive impact on your business. But ruthless prioritization means only focusing on the very best ideas," she continued. " It means figuring out the 10 things on your list and, if you can't do all 10, doing the top two really well."
In practice, ruthless prioritization can help you boil down your daily stress. Rather than rushing through your to-do list only to add every idea that comes to your mind, try to cut any tasks that seem unnecessary. Do you really need to do research on a business initiative that's just a maybe? Do you really need to send those cold emails that might equal no response? Spreading yourself too thin to check off a few mediocre intiatives is much less valuable than pouring yourself into something you can be proud of.
It can be tough to ruthlessly prioritize as a woman in the workplace, especially due to the pressures we face to say yes and suck it up. We're always trying to take on more and prove how far we can go before we break. But next time someone at work asks you to take on a task you really don't see going anywhere, think of what Sandberg would say: A big, fat "no."
"Ruthlessly prioritizing can get hard because you're always trying to do more," Sandberg finished. "But it's one of the best and most important ways to stay focused."
Stay focused and stay less stressed? You can count me in. Ruthlessly prioritizing may be tough. But if Sandberg uses it to keep Facebook from a full-meltdown, I think it's worth a shot.