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  • The Military’s “Rule of Three”

    A couple of weeks ago, I was reading this article in Good Housekeeping, and was struck by the concept of the “Rule of Three,” which is used by the U.S. military:

    They’ve found that people can only track three things at once. The entire military system is designed to reflect this. A squad leader is in charge of three fire team leaders….” (When the military experimented with a “Rule of Four,” notes Seelig, effectiveness dropped precipitously.)

    I know this section got my attention because I’ve been struggling to accomplish all of my goals in multiple areas – housekeeping, cooking, blogging, health and fitness, home organization (which is distinct from housekeeping), financial goals, plus smaller projects like things I’ve taken on for the PTA. That doesn’t even touch on the goals I’d like to add to my list, like educating myself more about investments.

    The concept of the Rule of Three made me feel better about my struggles. It makes sense that I’m having a tough time because I’m trying to do too much, which makes it difficult to be effective at anything.

    I feel like I need to combine the lessons of Eat That Frog! with the Rule of Three to maximize my productivity and minimize stress. (Because nothing creates stress like feeling overwhelmed!)

    So . . . I’m working on these things right now:

    Clarifying my goals per Eat that Frog. The clearer my goals, the clearer the things that need to be done in order to achieve them.

    Working out a system to implement the Rule of Three. I don’t want to reduce the number of things I want to accomplish, but I can focus on a few at a time, which will hopefully have the same effect as following the Rule of Three.

    I am also hoping this book, Getting Results the Agile Way: A Personal Results System for Work and Life, will be a Kindle deal soon because it apparently discusses the Rule of Three in relation to productivity.


    1. It will be interesting how you plan to incorporate this rule into your daily routine. Let us know how it goes.

    2. I have been enjoying the Eat that Frog book. It was short but really has some powerful ideas. I have even been trying to do some uncomfortable things- eat that frog- first and it does work!
      Let us know if you see this other book cheap on the kindle.

      • Chief Family Officer says:

        I agree – eating that frog first does work! I’ll definitely let you know about the other book :)