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A Guide to Warren Buffet's Incredible "2 List" Productivity Strategy

What is the "2 List" Strategy?

The Origin of the "2 List" Productivity Strategy

In case you're not aware of who Warren buffet is, he's one of the most successful investors of all time. Not only that but he also has made a name for himself as an incredible philanthropist and CEO.

The "2 list" strategy rose to prominence when Mike Flint (Warren Buffet's personal airplane pilot) asked warren for advice on how to become more productive and focused in order to achieve his goals.

A Guide to Warren Buffet's Incredible "2 List" Productivity Strategy

This is when Warren shared the "2 List Strategy with Mike. Since then Mike's gone on to become the CEO of Visionary Airlines (an organisation which offers pilot training and the chance for trainee's to get their pilot license). He often testifies that Warren's "2 list" productivity strategy is a key reason why he was able to achieve this.

Not only does Mike testify to the effectiveness of Warren's "2 list" productivity strategy but so do millions around the world. His "2 list" productivity hack is now one of the most popular strategies used around the world to prioritise goals and increase focus. 

How does the "2 List" Productivity Strategy Work

Following on from when Mike Flint asked Warren Buffet for advice on how he could increase his focus and achieve his goals, Warren asked Mike to list down 25 goals he would like to achieve in his life. 

Mike then went away, thought about it and returned with a list of 25 goals he desperately wanted to achieve. Warren then asked Mike to pick 5 goals out of the 25 that he felt were the most important to him. 

A Guide to Warren Buffet's Incredible "2 List" Productivity Strategy

Mike was then left with 2 different lists, one with his 5 most important goals and another with the remaining 20 goals.

As many of us would assume, Mike believed that he'd place his emphasis on the 5 most important goals whilst still trying to achieve the other 20 when he had free time or when he felt motivated. 

However, Warren stopped him right in his tracks. Warren advised him that he should throw away the other 20 goals and never think about them again. He explained that having too much on your plate can spread yourself thin and that having irrelevant goals can essentially be a distraction to the important goals that you would like to achieve. 

Essentially, the tasks that you want to complete but are not actually all that important are the tasks that are going to delay your progress.

To sum it up, here are the steps to implementing the "2 List" Strategy:

  1. Make a list of all the goals that you want to accomplish. We'll call this list "list 1". They can be as simplistic or as complex as you want them to be. 
  2. Pick out the top 5 goals from that list and write them on another list. We'll call this list "list 2".
  3. Throw away "list 1". Those goals are not important, they're just going to delay your progress.
  4. Place all of your energy and focus upon achieving the goals that are on "list 2".  By placing your undivided attention on these tasks, you're likely to make better progress. 

The Benefits of the "2 List" Strategy

Benefit #1: Prevents you from spreading yourself thin

Despite many of us opting to set out various goals for ourselves in an attempt to achieve more, it could be one of the worst things you could do to achieve more. Often you'll end up with 20 half finished goals rather than 5 goals that you've completed to the best of your ability.

Neuroscientists have consistently found that those who decide to work on multiple things at once often experience negative effects. Examples include an inability to retain and recall information, and a dramatic increase in stress levels.

A Guide to Warren Buffet's Incredible "2 List" Productivity Strategy

Furthermore, by focusing on multiple goals at once, it's unlikely that you'll have sufficient time and energy to devote to each goal. Instead by only having a few goals you'll have more mental energy to devote to each goal, therefore making it more likely you'll achieve your goal!

Benefit #2: Prevents you from over-exerting yourself

Along the same lines, the "2 list" strategy prevents you from overexerting yourself. If you're setting out a long list of goals to achieve along with deadlines to complete them by, it's likely that you'll start to feel the pressure and stress yourself out.

If you're constantly feeling pressure, more often than not you're going to over-exert yourself and suffer from a burnout. Working at such intensity can be harmful to both your mental health and your physical health.

This is where the "2 List" Productivity shines, it advocates working at a steady pace towards only a few goals, and allowing the small progress to add up over time. 

Benefit #3: The Simplicity

Lastly, another key benefit of the "2 list" productivity method is the simplicity of it. All that's required is a paper and pen to start making lists of your goals and then to start prioritising them.

This type of simplicity allows you to implement this productivity strategy wherever you are, even on the go! Furthermore, this whole process should only take a few minutes if you already have an idea of what you want to achieve, all that's needed is to properly prioritise them.


We all react differently to productivity strategies, some may find productivity methods that emphasise time-management are right for them whilst some may boost their productivity by just prioritising their goals through using strategies such as the "2 List" strategy . The only way to find out which one is right for you, is to try it out. If you feel like you need clarity on what you're setting out to achieve, try out the "2 List" strategy today!




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