Hack your commute: Rank your goals in order of importance

To ensure you are as effective and efficient at work as possible, start assessing why you are engaging in a particular activity and what you expect to achieve from it.


If you’re looking to improve your effectiveness and efficiency at work, there are surely few people whose advice could be more useful than the author of a book called Extreme Productivity. Bob Pozer’s credentials extend beyond a catchy title, though; he was president of Fidelity Investments before going on to lecture at MIT’s Sloan School of Management.

Among his key insights is that few executives take the time to write down their goals for the day, week, month or year ahead and rank them in order of priority. “Without a specific set of goals to pursue, many ambitious people devote insufficient time to activities that actually support their highest professional priorities,” he says in an article on the Sloan website.

Regardless of your career ambitions, he argues that it is important to start out assessing why you are engaging in a particular activity and what you expect to achieve from it. Having done this, you will have a better idea of how best to allocate your time.

Once you have your list, you may also want to start scheduling in time to achieve your most important goals. This is because research shows it makes it more likely you’ll achieve them.

A 1997 study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology called ‘Implementation Intentions and Effective Goal Pursuit’ found the success rate was three times higher when subjects not only expressed a goal, but also the conditions for how and when they would achieve them. These commitments were found to be “powerful self-regulatory tools” for overcoming obstacles to completing goals, and for encouraging people to take actions towards them when the opportunities arose.

Pozen contends that having effective productivity strategies to manage your goals should mean not having to sacrifice family time or miss out on the aspects of work you enjoy most. In fact, he argues that making room for these things is crucial to maintaining the energy to be productive in the first place.