The CEO of Airbnb starts each morning with a simple but effective twist on the standard to-do list

brian chesky

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Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky uses every morning to focus on what really matters.

Brian Chesky needs to be ruthlessly efficient with his time.

Chesky is the CEO of Airbnb, now valued at $31 billion, and he's currently overseeing its transformation into a full-blown travel service.

That process starts each morning with his simple but effective twist on the standard to-do list.Advertisement

Chesky explained his technique to Greylock investor and LinkedIn founder and chairman Reid Hoffman for an episode of Hoffman's podcast "Masters of Scale."
  • Make a list of everything you want to accomplish that day. Be as exhaustive as possible.
  • Group a few similar tasks together.
  • Ask yourself for each group: What one action takes care of all of these? "It's like a game of leverage," Chesky said.
  • Repeat the grouping and refining process until you have just a few big tasks.

"If you have a list of 20 things to do, you end up realizing, 'I don't need to do 20 things,'" Chesky said. "If I do these three big things, the other 20 things will kind of happen as outcomes, or outputs, of it."

Chesky's strategy is similar to the way "Shark Tank" investor Barbara Corcoran grades all of her personal and business tasks. She gives each point a letter grade from A to F, and then makes a list of only the As. Then, she gives each of those a grade, with a much tougher lens, and she only works toward accomplishing the ones that get the final A grade. She recommends the technique to all of the new entrepreneurs she works with, who are learning how to live with responsibilities that could easily overtake their lives.

Author and podcast host Tim Ferriss also approaches his to-do lists from a similar angle, except that he takes it a step further and defines one task that he absolutely must complete that day.

You can listen to the full episode of Hoffman's podcast wherever you get podcasts or can find it below. Advertisement