Productivity: Do Your Less Important Item First

April 13, 2009
Written by Cathy

778060551_de0932f2f5 Reading the title, you may think I’m crazy.  I am, but not today.  I am caffeinated.

Doing your less-than-most important item first flies in the face of productivity.  That’s anti-productivity, isn’t it?  To find balance,  sometimes you need to flip the world upside down.

Take the case with our busy lives.  We buy productivity books, sign up for reminders and to do lists, and try to keep our focus on our most important things.  We work so hard not to get side tracked by silly things.  We should always keep our eye on the ball, and never lose sight of the important things.  However, what happens when we only focus on our most important tasks, the A list items?  How many more A list items get added?  When do the B list items get promoted to A?  They almost never do.

Every once in a while, take one of the items from your ‘least important list’ and do them first in the day.  The rest of your day will be free for your most important priorities, but you will have one secondary item done and out of the way.  If you have so many priorities and commitments in your life, instead of eliminating the ones that aren’t as critical, just get it out of the way first.

I often put off exercising and going to the gym.  I know, it should be a top priority item.  The reality is it’s the easiest item to push off my list altogether.  Errands, classes, homework, and work are fixed priorities.  There is an immediate, tangible cost if they aren’t finished.  I become too tired, or run out of time to fit in exercise.  I decided to change the way I thought.  If I do my exercise first thing in the morning, before anything else, then it’s done.  The rest of my day is free for the things that HAVE to get done.  I won’t feel worried or guilty that I’m too tired to workout.  I spent as much time as I needed on my A list.

I have a lot of things going on currently.  I don’t want to eliminate any of my priorities.  I find reordering them in my day helps me accomplish them more.  Sometimes, that means promoting a B list item before everything else.

Try it.  For this week, take something from your not-as-important list and mark it done.  If you are a GTD practitioner, remember this as part of your weekly review.

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