Most of us have a daily or weekly routine, and incorporated within that routine is a priority structure. This structure is often not recognized, and I think we benefit from making it explicit, which is why I write about it. Overlying the priority structure is our needs hierarchy, which stipulates that we will take care of the basics (sleep, eat, shave, earn an income) before we work on higher level activities (socialize, create, contemplate). Of course how much time we spend on the basics and on the higher pursuits depends on our priority structure.
The intersection of our routine and our priority structure generates a pattern of accomplishment in the following way: On a day-to-day basis, we move through our priorities, starting with the base and moving up, and at some point we run out of time. Because most of us have developed predictable (if implicit) priority structures, and because our routine tends to be, well, routine, there is a line in our priority structure below which the elements reliably get done, and above which elements reliably don’t get done–day after day, week after week. The irony is that activities that often fall just above the accomplishment line are A Tasks, which are most likely to result in long term improvements in our quality of life. Our challenge is to optimize our priority structure and to raise our accomplishment line.
I went camping this weekend, and joked that I prefer camping equipment to camping, and that I only go camping so I can use my camping equipment. This joke was in my favorite style of humor, which is stating a truth as plainly as possible, so that it’s perceived as a joke. This particular truth-joke, however, reveals an important strategy, which is that purchasing something cool inspires us to use it. Expensive camping equipment is lame, but camping is one of those things that I dread doing but always appreciate having done after it’s over, so if purchasing expensive camping equipment pushes camping below the accomplishment line, it’s an excellent use of money. This is gadget to action.
Gadget to action is why Mac users do so much more cool shit on their computers than PC users; Mac programs are fun and make you want to use them. I once designed a 3-year research project because it would have given me a reason to use a supercool Mac app.
I want to read more. Should I buy the Kindle?