A Simple Framework To Figure Out What's Important

In every productivity book, you'll inevitably hear the word 'Priority'. Whether it's the 80/20 Rule, Stephen Covey's Grid, or the simple ABC priorities that my father taught me, they all aim to set you up to focus on what's most important. Important, however, is never defined for us. Important is something that we have to decide..and that's a good thing! If we had everyone else telling us what the most important thing is in our life, we would essentially be giving them the freedom we all have to lead our own lives. 

This exercise of determining what's important is posed, but rarely is it that simple.  I've found that in previous prioritization exercises, I've determined this on the fly. Shouldn't it be possible to break down what importance means to us in order to give us the most thoughtful priorities and choices? Wouldn't it be great to take any idea or opportunity and throw it through a personalized system to see if it fits into your life? How can we remove any anxiety and gain as much confidence that what we're working on is the right thing? There should be a simple way to figure out what's important and so I set out to build something that can make it a little easier . I selected some standard questions and criteria of what makes something important and put together a little spreadsheet in order to make a little system for myself.  


Let's see how this process lines up with my life's most active projects.

  • My Wife
  • Networking
  • Genius Armour
  • The Gross Profit
  • altMBA
  • My Habits

First, you write down all of the projects you have in your life. ( we'll eventually be able to use this framework for project tasks as well ) 

Second, you take your projects and add the to the second sheet labeled 'Prioritizer'. In the 'Prioritizer', you'll be answering a few questions and giving an estimated grade on a scale from 1 to 10.  1 is less and 10 is more.

The questions we ask about your project are:

  • Alignment with Life Goals
  • Value being created for others
  • Short Term Personal Happiness
  • Long Term Personal Happiness
  • Short Term Financial Gain
  • Long Term Financial Gain
  • Difficulty
  • Impactfulness on my life
  • Urgency
  • Time to Allocate
  • Size of Daily Tasks
  • Risk to Not Complete
  • Risk To Purse

Once you add in your estimated value for each question/criteria the spreadsheet will total the project points. As you keep adding projects and answer the questions for each one, the spreadsheet will automatically sort your projects in the order of priority. Kind of cool, right?

Now you have a framework for quickly figuring out what is important so that you can live a life more aligned with what you want. This is not about being most productive to an elite standard. It's about being productive toward your own standard. It's also about having a clear and trusted process that helps you make more objective decisions.

Use this in projects, or even use it for project sub-tasks. It will help you figure out the most important thing you can be doing out of your many options. 

If you have any questions or feedback on how to improve this process, send me a message!