So, What’s Important?

by JL Beeken on 1-19-2013

I have no delusions about getting to the bottom of my 12 Inboxes. Some of them I will, others I won’t. What’s happening here is a spiral, starting from the top. In other words, it’s a downward spiral. But only in a good way.

Spiral

Over 12 days I pick the most important thing from each of 12 categories instead of choosing from one long list I found near impossible considering the size of it. And then over the next 12 days I pick the 12 most important things again. And I continue around and around until it’s time for me to die and go to Heaven.

So, how do I choose what’s most important?

First of all, I put everything on a list. I scour through my computer folders regularly looking for those things. I scour the rooms of my house and I scour my mind. As new things and ideas arrive they get added to the impossibly long list.

And then I look at my Inbox for the day and make a choice.

  • It could be as simple as the thing that’s been on the list bugging me the longest.
  • It could be the thing that jumps out at me from the list for some unknown reason.
  • It could be something that suddenly pops into my mind out of nowhere.
  • Sometimes it arrives by way of a phone call, a knock on the door or a dream.

I don’t prioritize lists by number because that would assume that I’m living in a vacuum and, of course, I’m not.

What I think is the most important thing one day will almost never be what I would think is the most important thing on another day. The changing complexity of our environment re-colors our sense of ‘what’s next’ continually.

I take note of what energizes me. I take note of what I’m dragging myself through. Do I have to do it at all? If I do, is there a way to make it simpler or more enjoyable? Can I make it shorter? Can I make it easier? Can I change my attitude?

I use ActionOutline for most of my thinking out loud because I love the way it’s designed. Outline on the left; word processor on the right.

This is not rocket science so don’t over-think it.

I went through all my Inboxes and put a red flag on anything that I have to do. I don’t mean what I want to do, prefer to do or am addicted to doing. I mean what I have to do; file-your-taxes-or-the-sky-will-fall-in have to.

Prioritizing, ActionOutline

If it doesn’t have a red flag on it, it’s optional. Yep, every single other thing.

And optional is optional.

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