We spend a lot of time studying successful leaders. One theme that we’ve found across all leaders is their ability to focus and “gate” their activities and mental energy. From investing legends like Warren Buffett and Carl Icahn, to business leaders like Jeff Bezos and Howard Schultz, “gating” is a method used by all billionaires to accomplish their goals faster than others.
Gating is the process by which you only move on to the next project once you have finished very specific deliverables for the current project. Using this process forces you to establish clear deliverables at the beginning of every project, and it ensures that the end goal is actually being reached. Most of all, it eliminates inefficiencies caused by simultaneously going back and forth between multiple projects, while still never getting any of them across the finish line.
Imagine your business as if you are in the first room within a greater series of room. You can neither see nor think about what is in room number two until you walk through the door that separates the first and second room. Now imagine that you do not allow yourself to open that door until you’ve taken care of everything you need to do in the first room.
Complex organizations like Amazon or Starbucks have hundreds of problems being worked on simultaneously by different folks. When reading articles about some of these billionaires, it’s easy to be impressed by how many different things they can hold in their head at once. However, when you really study these leaders, what you find is their advantage is less related to their ability to multi-task and more about their ability to focus.
They will dedicate all of their time, energy and mental effort to a specific problem or project until it is done. Then they will move on to the next issue and attack it with everything they have. Then again, move onto the next problem.
Set up “gates” - or specific deliverables that need to be completed before moving on to something else - for your employees and your company and you will find that you can accomplish more in less time.