I can’t remember where I heard it, it was a long time ago, but someone talked to me about WINning – WIN – What’s Important right Now. Picking the most important thing to do right now, and focusing on it, 100%.

It is a little like Covey’s First Things First habit. The challenge, of course, is working out what is important right now! Prioritisation can be a tricky thing. Getting Things Done doesn’t really major on prioritisation, to me it is more focussed on getting everything that needs to be done, done. I probably need to look at that aspect of GTD again though, unless someone out there has a view! Covey has the four quadrants:

  • Urgent, Important
  • Urgent, Not Important
  • Not Urgent, Important
  • Not Urgent, Not Important

Some people use the ABC123 system to prioritize tasks, popularized by Alan Lakein. Which got me thinking: Perhaps there is a hierarchy of tasks, just like Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs? Are there tasks that trump any others? As it turns out, there seems to be some balance between a simple ‘do the most important thing right now’ and a ‘boxing’ or category-based approach.

Take business as an example. There are different needs that have to be met, think about concepts like revenue, costs, investment and efficiency. If one is tackled and the others are neglected, the business will fail. Take these same ideas and then apply them to general life:

  • does this activity free up time? (efficiency)
  • does this increase my earning potential? (investment – skills development/resource creation)
  • does this activity generate income? (‘revenue’)
  • does this reduce my outgoings? (‘costs’)

All of these needs should be served in a truly productive life. How about writing four lists this weekend, then picking the highest impact, winning item, off of each list and getting it done this week?

You might find some extra inspiration in the Zen Habit’s automate your income post and the Habitual Habits post.