One Nose, Two Ears, and Four Paws! A Simple Solution to Working On the Right Things

How To Do “One Nose, Two Ears, and Four Paws”

Smell for your biggest priority. Eat that first.
Listen for other items of importance. Chase two!
Run over some other small items of impact!

As you proceed throughout your day, there are always going to be interruptions. I find it really helpful to start my day with a review of what I hope to accomplish today before I dive into my work. The statement above comes from me asking myself the following questions:

1. If I only got one thing done today, what would be most important?
2. Once that is done, what else would make today an awesome accomplishment?
3. What little things can I bang out that would have impact?

If you get through the post-it, you can either do another one or work freely. Your day has been amazing. I rarely complete my post-its daily but with this method I never doubt that I’m working on the right things. I prefer to separate what I’m doing at by day-job and my priorities outside of my day-job.  I am consistent about doing this for each work-day during the week, but depending on how much free time I have, I use this system for what I’m getting done at home, too, or for a session working on a different project.

Additional Items When Consider When Thinking About Your Priorities

  • For work, discuss your priorities with your manager.
    • How do the things you’re working on roll-up into your manager’s goals and the company’s goals?
    • Success is tied to being effective at the right things, rather than chasing every ball that is thrown for you to fetch.
  • Overall, does what you’re focusing on align with your 3-month and long-term goals?
    • If you need somewhere to start documenting your goals, check out my first post that includes a free downloadable goal template.
    • Your goals are met by the items you do every single day! Make sure some items you’re smelling for, chasing, or pouncing on are moving you closer, even if in small steps, to your larger goals.

Examples Of My Sticky Notes

Here is an example of one of my work Post-Its:


Here is an example from a Saturday morning focused on Biscuit:


You don’t need anything other than paper and a pen to do this exercise. However, I am working on a custom sticky-note product to guide this valuable exercise. I’d love your feedback. See below for just a draft of what I’m imagining the sticky-note would look like. Would you find it helpful to have a pre-printed pad to remind you to do this daily? I sorta want one! I’m thinking a 4 x 4 instead of 3 x 3 to leave more space to write.


This came from something that I heard about somewhere called the “1-3-5 Rule.” I don’t remember where I heard it originally, but you can find a more in-depth article on the “1-3-5 Rule” on a site called The Muse which published an article called, “A Better To-Do List: The 1-3-5 Rule.” I wasn’t able to identify the original creator, but if you know I’m happy to add it here. I started using the 1-3-5 rule, and actually found that when planning my day, even that was too many things sometimes. Given my “1”s are usually things that take a couple hours, 1-2-4 has been working for me really well.