Greg McKeown explains “The word priority came into the English language in the 1400s. It was singular. It meant the very first or prior thing. It stayed singular for the next five hundred years. Only in the 1900s did we pluralize the term and start talking about priorities.”
Just because we add the “-ities” to the word doesn’t mean our world or our brain has evolved at the same pace. The world has evolved to demand more of our attention, intention, energy, and effort. Our brain has evolved to think we can do it all. Greg McKeown challenges us to ask, what is the vital few? What are the trivial many?
Our brain can’t actually handle, process, and create high-quality outputs with many #1 priorities. Having 20 number one overall draft picks makes all 20 not important. I am notorious for this in my past, working on 20 things giving 5% of my energy towards all 20. Overconsumption with our inputs and the feeling of there being a lack of time for the overloaded “To-Do List” lets the unproductive feeling sneak in. Even if we did accomplish a lot of what was the most meaningful there is a residual feeling, “could I have been more productive today?”
My friend Matt Welch (check out his blog https://runtheprocess.com) recently inspired me with an idea that I have started to apply. What is my one priority that makes today a success? Everything else is a bonus.
Write it down and track it across weeks, months, and the year. Using the idea of the one-line journal concept from Ryan Holiday and applying it to my priority list. Write your one priority for that day, accomplish it, and track it across time. Looking back on a week or yea and getting 7 or 365 dubs.
If I do this one thing then today was a win. Everything else is a bonus.