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Summary: Pick Three: You Can Have It All (Just Not Every Day) by Randi Zuckerberg

Key Takeaways

  • Do you want to have it all, but feel overwhelmed and stressed by the demands of work and life? If so, you might be interested in reading Pick Three by Randi Zuckerberg, a book that reveals a new way of achieving success and happiness without trying to balance it all.
  • To find out more about the book and how it can help you live a more productive, creative, and fulfilled life, read the full summary and review below. You will discover the five categories of your life that you can pick from each day, and how to make the most of them with simple and proven strategies. Don’t miss this opportunity to learn from one of the most influential and innovative women in the world. Read on and get ready to pick three and have it all!

Many people feel they can “do it all” over the course of their day, as long as they’re able to find a “balance.” But when you spread yourself too thin in a bid to do it all, it can leave you feeling stressed and inadequate. Randi Zuckerberg believes that to be truly happy and successful, we must reject the unrealistic burden of balance. In this book summary, you’ll learn why you can’t “do it all” every day — but you can be successful in the long run if you pick just three things to do each day.

The key to being successful is to be well-lopsided.


  • Feel like there aren’t enough hours in a day to achieve your goals
  • Want to stop neglecting important areas of your life, such as sleep, family, or fitness
  • Are interested in transforming your mindset to make you happier and more successful


With so many expectations put on us every day, it’s easy to feel like we’re not doing enough or we’re not good enough. The reality is that there’s no way to be perfect. Nevertheless, your friends on social media make it seem like you can have the perfect career, the perfect body, amazing friends, and a lot of cool hobbies if you just learn to balance your schedule more effectively. But despite what this veneer of perfection and balance might tell you, it’s impossible to juggle all those things at once.

Book Summary: Pick Three - You Can Have It All (Just Not Every Day)

Randi Zuckerberg got stuck in the trap of trying to be “well-balanced” when she was in high school. She was a theater nerd with a mediocre academic record, average SAT scores, and an unbalanced extracurricular background. Zuckerberg felt that she’d never get into a good school. Then, while touring Harvard, she met an admissions officer who told her that elite universities like Harvard look not only for “well-rounded” students but also for “well-lopsided” students — students that bring diversity and fresh ideas to campus by excelling in just a couple of areas. Since Randi had excelled in her theater pursuits by touring with a semiprofessional opera company and performing in several shows per year, she realized the secret to her success might be embracing her identity as a “well-lopsided” person.

As it would turn out, Zuckerberg’s lopsidedness did get her into Harvard. Later, when a high-pressure job and the challenges of managing a family began to overwhelm her, she realized that the lopsided approach could save her on a day-to-day basis as well. She developed the “pick three” approach, wherein you pick just three areas to focus on each day. This method transformed her life and enabled her to start a successful company, raise two kids, and make time for the things and people that matter most to her.

In this summary, you’ll learn about Randi Zuckerberg’s life-changing approach and how it could help you in your life. This summary will discuss:

  1. The five categories of life, and why you can’t do everything at once
  2. How pick three works
  3. Five ways to be healthily lopsided

You’ll also learn about other “well-lopsided” people who thrive by focusing on less so that they can do more each day.

The Five Categories of Life and Why You Can’t Do Everything at Once

According to Randi, there are five key categories of your life: work, sleep, family, fitness, and friends.

  1. Work refers to your contribution of time and effort in return for value. Value can come in the form of money, passion, meaning, or a stepping-stone toward another goal.
  2. Sleep is an essential part of life that every stressed person wants more of. Because sleeping eats up about 30% of your day, when you’ve got a lot going on, it’s easy to neglect sleep and then feel guilty about it.
  3. Family is key to keeping you inspired and grounded in what matters in life.
  4. Fitness goes beyond exercise. It includes all aspects of self-care and proper maintenance of physical, mental, and emotional health.
  5. Friends are the people you support and have fun with. The “friends” component of your life often encompasses your hobbies and outside interests; it’s made up of the people and activities that bring you pleasure outside of your work and family.

Trying to balance these five categories on a daily basis is exhausting. Take Emmy, for example. Emmy tries to be well-balanced by committing to four areas each day. On Monday, she commits to four tasks: work, family, fitness, and sleep. But one day, she sleeps through her alarm and has to go to a later spin class. The class ends during rush hour, so Emmy is late to work, which means she has to stay late. Emmy cancels a special family dinner she had planned and brings home takeout instead. The restaurant forgets her son’s burrito, so she must drive back to get it. When she gets home, her kids are hungry and cranky, so she lets them spend the evening watching TV, while she catches up on emails and hopes that tomorrow will be better.

How Pick Three Works

Despite what your Facebook and Instagram feeds might suggest, it’s impossible to excel in every life category every day. According to Zuckerberg, you’ll get far better results by focusing on three areas instead of five.

If Emmy’s Monday was dedicated to just work, family, and sleep, she could’ve gotten a good night’s sleep, gone straight to work, left the office on time, and had a wonderful evening with her kids. Then, on Tuesday, she could’ve made her early spin class, even if it meant losing an hour of sleep or spending less time with her kids that evening. Picking three things each day doesn’t mean neglecting important areas of your life; it just means rotating your focus from day to day so that you can give important things your full attention.

Here are Zuckerberg’s ground rules for picking your three tasks each day:

  1. Pick three. No exceptions!
  2. Wait until tomorrow for tomorrow’s tasks. Getting a “head start” on your three picks for tomorrow will distract you from what matters today.
  3. Don’t feel guilty. Keep in mind that you’re doing only three out of five tasks today, so you can get better results elsewhere and be more productive.
  4. Be great. Wholeheartedly throw yourself into doing your three picks.
  5. Track your choices. Although you won’t address every life area every day, you can still stay well-balanced by keeping track of your daily priorities. Write down what you do and periodically review your past days, weeks, and months, checking to see if one category isn’t getting enough attention. If this is the case, make the neglected category one of your picks for future days.

Five Ways to Be Lopsided

Here’s a quick math problem: If you can pick three life categories to focus on each day from five categories, how many possible combinations do you have each day? You might think that there are an unwieldy number of combinations, but there are actually only 10.

Selecting from 10 possible combinations might not be the most daunting choice you’ll ever have to make, but it can still be tricky — especially if you have big goals in each area. To make the choice a bit easier, Randi introduces the “Pick Three Friends.” These are six common types of lopsided people: the passionista, the eliminator, the superhero, the renovator, the monetizer, and the expert. Although there’s no right or wrong way to be lopsided, identifying which lopsided personality type you have can help you think about which three life categories align with your goals.


Passionistas decide what to focus on for themselves. Ideally, they’re surrounded by supportive people and maintain a healthy and satisfying lifestyle. But if you become too much of a passionista in any one category, you can get into the habit of repeatedly neglecting the others.

Work passionistas, such as Elon Musk, have an incredible strength that’s also an incredible weakness: an intense drive and motivation to succeed. Thanks to his incredible drive, Musk is constantly coming up with new ways to help people get to the moon, speed across the country, avoid paying for gas, and other things that were previously impossible. But it’s well-known that Musk doesn’t have a lot of extra time for his friends and family, and he barely sleeps.

A friends passionista always puts their friends first and is often passionate about connecting with people in a meaningful way. One friends passionista, Susan McPherson, created a company that helps firms use their brands to generate social good. On the side, she started a project called Hello Neighbor, which connects Syrian refugee families in Pittsburgh to local buddy families. Friends passionistas might get carried away, which will make other categories suffer.

No matter which focus passionistas have, their obsession with one category of life makes it important for them to connect to people who remind them what matters.


Eliminators pick their three focus areas by deliberately eliminating the least necessary ones, so they can focus on the ones that matter most. For instance, work eliminators know they don’t want to be defined by their jobs, and therefore, they make a conscious decision to not focus on work by retiring, taking time off, or staying at home as a caretaker.

Meanwhile, a sleep eliminator would regularly not choose sleep as one of their picks. Dr. Adam Griesemer, a sleep eliminator, stays awake for up to 40 hours at a time. As a pediatric organ transplant surgeon, he routinely has to get up in the middle of the night, catch a flight to pick up an organ, and quickly head into a lengthy, complicated surgery.

If you’re an eliminator, be aware that eliminating one category is best done for only a short period of time. Dr. Griesemer told Randi Zuckerberg that, although he currently feels he’s well-lopsided because he derives enormous satisfaction from saving thousands of children’s lives, he eventually plans to transition into a role that allows him to relax from time to time.


Superheroes would try to “do it all” if they could, but due to uncontrollable circumstances — such as financial hardship, illness, or a loved one’s needs — they’re forced to either prioritize or eliminate one life category for someone they love. For instance, a family superhero would become lopsided toward the family category to support a loved one.

Ramya Kumar worked as a professional banker since the day she graduated from business school. She climbed the corporate ladder at breakneck speed and was offered a vice president position at a young age. However, when her autistic so suffered a setback, his therapist recommended Kumar spend more time with him. So, she reduced her working hours and tried to juggle work, her personal life, and constant trips to different therapists for four years. Ultimately, Kumar realized she wasn’t giving 100% to work or her son, and she made the tough choice to quit her job and dedicate herself to taking care of her son 24/7.


Renovators are people who started off as passionistas but hit a serious roadblock and had to pivot and rebuild their lives to get back on track. A friend renovator, for instance, is a friend passionista who had to rethink and rebuild their friend circle.

Julie Zeilinger, who runs the feminist blog FBomb, says that in high school, she had five best friends who were her entire world. She did everything with them, shared her deepest secrets, and felt truly herself around them. When Zeilinger went to college, she found herself wading through shallow conversations and missing the deep connections she’d shared with her old friends. Since Zeilinger was introverted, it was hard for her to apply her passion for friendship in a setting where she didn’t know anyone, and nobody seemed interested in connecting deeply. However, Zeilinger eventually built a new friend circle and now shares advice with other people about how to make friends as adults.


Monetizers capitalize on one of the basic human needs for work, sleep, family, fitness, and friends. They could be career coaches, nutritionists, fitness instructors, or anyone else who becomes an expert in a key area of life and then provides products and services to help you achieve more in that area.

Scott Rosenbaum was able to monetize the “friends” category of life by creating Rent a Friend, a service for people who want to see a movie, try a new restaurant, or attend a sporting event or concert but don’t want to go alone.

Celebrity Cruises president and CEO Lisa Lutoff Perlo became a sleep monetizer when she created a program called Celebrity’s Mindful Dreams. The program creates an opportunity for vacationers to catch up on sleep and change their sleep habits while on a luxury cruise.


Experts are go-to people who know why one of the life categories is especially important. If you’re a passionista, it’s great to have experts in your life because they’ll remind you why the categories you aren’t passionate about are important enough to be included in your picks from time to time.

A sleep expert, for instance, might make you realize that you’ll be much more effective at applying yourself in other areas of your life if you occasionally make sleep one of your three daily picks.

If more than one of these personality types resonates, that’s because you are not a static person: You can change as often as you want, and it’s good to switch things up depending on what’s going on in your life. For example, if you’re studying for the LSATs, you might become a work passionista or sleep eliminator for a few months. Then, once the tests are over, you might want to try being a fitness passionista or sleep reformer for a while. As long as you’re happy, engaged, and fulfilling your potential on a regular basis, do what works for you.


In this book summary, you learned:

  1. The five categories of life, and why you can’t do everything at once
  2. How pick three works
  3. Five ways to be healthily lopsided

Ultimately, the lopsided life comes down to surrendering the notion that you’ll be able to accomplish everything every day. There’s no way around sacrifice, but if your “pick three” aligns with your true priorities, you won’t regret saying no to the other life categories from time to time.

Ramya Kumar, who quit her banking job to take care of her son, told Zuckerberg that her transition was challenging, but it taught her to see beyond her identity as a banker and find joy in her role as a mother. Meanwhile, Dr. Griesemer, the pediatric organ transplant surgeon, doesn’t have time to sleep eight hours every night, but for him, the many lives he saves are worth it.

What are your dreams, and how could you accomplish them with better focus? Welcome to your new life: one that is based on your decisions and your choices — your “pick three.”

About the author

Randi Zuckerberg is the founder and CEO of Zuckerberg Media and author of four books. She’s also the executive producer of the Dot., an animated show about a young girl who uses technology to enhance both her educational experiences and recreational activities.


self-help, business, personal development, time management, happiness, success, productivity, work-life balance, motivation, and lifestyle


Pick Three: You Can Have It All (Just Not Every Day) by Randi Zuckerberg is a book that challenges the idea of having a well-balanced life and proposes a new way of achieving success and happiness. The author, who is a former Facebook executive and a media entrepreneur, argues that we cannot do everything every day, and that trying to do so only leads to frustration and guilt. Instead, she suggests that we pick three areas of our lives to focus on each day, out of the five categories of work, sleep, fitness, family, and friends. By doing so, we can be more productive, creative, and fulfilled, and avoid the burnout and stress that come from trying to balance it all.

The book is divided into five parts, each covering one of the categories. In each part, the author explains the benefits and challenges of picking that category, and shares her own experiences and insights, as well as those of other successful people who have adopted the pick three philosophy. She also provides tips and exercises to help the readers apply the concept to their own lives and goals. Some of the main points that the author makes are:

  • Work: Picking work means pursuing your passion and purpose, and making a positive impact on the world. It also means being flexible and adaptable to the changing demands and opportunities of the market. The author advises that we should embrace failure as a learning opportunity, seek feedback and mentorship, and leverage our unique strengths and skills.
  • Sleep: Picking sleep means prioritizing your health and well-being, and giving your body and mind the rest and recovery they need. It also means being more alert, focused, and efficient during the day. The author recommends that we should set a regular bedtime and wake-up time, avoid screens and caffeine before bed, and create a relaxing and comfortable sleep environment.
  • Fitness: Picking fitness means taking care of your physical and mental health, and boosting your energy and mood. It also means being more resilient, confident, and attractive. The author suggests that we should find a type of exercise that we enjoy and can stick to, set realistic and measurable goals, and track our progress and achievements.
  • Family: Picking family means spending quality time with your loved ones, and nurturing your relationships and bonds. It also means being more supportive, compassionate, and grateful. The author advises that we should communicate openly and honestly, express our appreciation and affection, and create memorable and meaningful experiences together.
  • Friends: Picking friends means cultivating your social and professional network, and expanding your horizons and perspectives. It also means being more fun, adventurous, and generous. The author recommends that we should reach out and connect with new and old friends, share our interests and passions, and give back and help others.

Pick Three is a book that offers a practical and realistic approach to living a happy and successful life in the modern world. It is based on the author’s personal and professional journey and research, as well as the stories and examples of other people who have followed the pick three method. It is also filled with humor, honesty, and inspiration, making the book engaging and relatable. The book is suitable for anyone who wants to learn how to manage their time and energy better, and to achieve their goals and dreams without sacrificing their health and happiness.

Alex Lim is a certified book reviewer and editor with over 10 years of experience in the publishing industry. He has reviewed hundreds of books for reputable magazines and websites, such as The New York Times, The Guardian, and Goodreads. Alex has a master’s degree in comparative literature from Harvard University and a PhD in literary criticism from Oxford University. He is also the author of several acclaimed books on literary theory and analysis, such as The Art of Reading and How to Write a Book Review. Alex lives in London, England with his wife and two children. You can contact him at [email protected] or follow him on Website | Twitter | Facebook

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