Working Smarter, Not Harder [3-3-3 Method]
Working Smarter, Not Harder
SUPERHUMAN SCORE: 8.75
Oliver Burkeman is the best-selling author of Four Thousand Weeks.
In his newsletter, The Imperfectionist, he shared his 3-3-3 Method for a productive day.
How do YOU define a productive day?
Until you define it, you’ll never feel like you’re doing enough.
Make 3-3-3 your yardstick:
In every edition of System Sunday, I assess the featured system across three superhuman dimensions: impact, setup, and maintenance.
Unlike your typical review, I focus on factors that influence personal growth. Get to know the evaluation system.
Let's get right into the method.
The First 3
Spend 3 hours of deep work on your most important project.
3-4 hrs of focused work is our cognitive limit.
For best results, complete during your highest state of energy (flow = 500% more effective).
Define a specific progress goal.
Block out distractions.
The Second 3
Execute 3 shorter tasks.
These are urgent to-dos.
Often, they're “sticky note” items you may be avoiding (some take only a few mins).
- Managing: delegating, providing feedback
- Calls, meetings
- Smaller work tasks
The Third 3
Complete 3 “maintenance activities.”
These are items that make your life go smoothly.
Schedule time for maintenance (don't cram elsewhere).
- Cleaning (laundry, dishes, etc.)
- Self-Improvement: exercising, journaling
- Before wrapping up your workday, plan your 3-3-3 for tomorrow
- Write down your 3-3-3 in a visible place
- Time block your calendar for those activities
This is how I’ve grown an online audience of 950K+ in 11 months. My first three is writing for 3 hours (and publishing) every morning.
I write my 3-3-3 plan on a card, which is kept on my desk (helpful visual cue).
I use Ugmonks’ minimalist analog wood cardholder.
A simple pleasure? Checking off an important to-do.
Sidenote: I use more sophisticated digital tools—like Trello—to manage complex projects (such as building an online course). You can refer to tools like this to determine your 3-3-3.
BRINGING IT HOME
That's Burkeman's 3-3-3 Method for a productive day.
All systems go,