In comedy, there is the rule of threes. It’s this comedic device that you can list two things that make sense then a third that doesn’t and laughter ensues. You set up one thing, then you confirm that thing by listing another and then you derail the train with a non sequitur. Comedians use it all the time–so much so that unless you’re a master its use can be hack-ish. It’s like hitting a baseball from a tee.
But beyond this, you see the rule of threes in writing and poetry and music. It’s really, at its core, a musical device.
I don’t know enough about music theory to really explain why, but the rule of threes is relied on heavily by musicians to create pleasing compositions.
I share all this because I use the rule of threes in my prioritization and daily to-dos. I’ve realized my mind can’t go beyond three levels of prioritization. I have tried to be more granular with stuff, like: 1) urgent; 2) not urgent, important; 3) not essential but nice; 4) unimportant.
Even with this, at four levels, things fall apart. My mind can’t think in four tiers.
I try to make my buckets as large as possible so that I never exceed three.
All these fancy task apps like Asana make it really easy to impose fancy levels of prioritization but I’ve found you soon realize you’re well beyond three levels of task organization and you just can’t hold it all together in your brain and the whole system falls apart, so it’s important to start any project management endeavor understanding the rule of threes.
Otherwise, you spend you’re life categorizing and get less done as well.
Three is the magic numbers. It’s somehow, written in the Cosmos.