pri·or·i·ty | \ prī-ˈȯr-ə-tē
1a: the quality or state of being prior
b: superiority in rank, position, or privilege
2a: precedence in date or position of publication
b: legal precedence in exercise of rights over the same subject matter: a preferential rating especially: one that allocates rights to goods and services usually in limited supply that project has top priority
3: something given or meriting attention before competing alternatives
I'm going to write today about number 3. I don't know about you - but my life is full of "competing alternatives".
The first time that I sit at my desk each day, I decide on my priority. Then I write it at the top of my today card. Beneath it, I write a maximum of two more "move the needle" tasks.
The today card is part of Analog by Ugmonk, an unnecessarily beautiful desk accessory that you definitely don't need, but may probably want. Follow the link at your wallet's peril.
The five minutes focused on deciding my priority is essential. Left to my own devices, I tend towards completing busy work. Ticking off multiple tasks, rather than tackling one that moves the needle.
I have adopted the move the needle test from MacSparky, David Sparks. He has multiple roles, or contexts, and knows that he needs to use his time to move things forward. I find this approach liberating. It ensures that I work on the things important to me, first.
I still capture tasks in my notebooks, in Things and even in my head - but I use the Analog cards to keep me on track each day.
An extension of this, are themes. I aim to establish a theme for each day. Thursday for example, is "voice". I record my podcasts on Thursday. If I need to schedule a Zoom or Teams conversation, I'll try to do it on a Thursday. On a Thursday, I feel no guilt about chatting. I'm more present. I'm not trying to multi-task. Mentally, I'm switched into speaking and recording, so there are fewer mode switches, making me more efficient.
Simplicity. The more I consider my workflows, the more I seek simplicity. I hope to continue theming my days - making each day more "automatic."
I talk every week with my friend Justin Twyford about productivity. Get Stationery Adjacent wherever you get your podcasts.
This site has a members-only section, where I'm publishing a draft of my novel. Membership is open to all, and costs £3 a month or £24 per annum. The support is invaluable to me, and members get to comment and critique my work as it releases in a private Slack. All members get a free electronic version of any published work too. Join here.