Saturday, May 9, 2009

The Principle of Least Important

David Allen, author of Getting Things Done has a good idea. According to him, you should separate your collect from your process, and action. That pretty much sums up his book. I find that idea to be very true and had applied it ever since.

Wait a minute, what do you mean, that’s it? David Allen initiated the productivity revolution, no? He inspired countless of productivity blogs, productivity book, and productivity Moleskine. Shouldn’t I give more credit to the David Allen, the foremost authority in Productivity? Shouldn’t I give more credit to the book of the 21st century?

Sorry, but Dave’s book ain’t no book of the century. I hate to break your heart, but Dave only has one good idea. A year after I read the book, I’ve forgotten most of the content in his book. The truth is, the purported “system” peddled in the book are either common enough to be found in other books or doesn’t work. Do you know why it doesn’t work? It’s because Dave left out the-principle-of-least-important.

The-principle-of-least-important states that the least important task in your life does not get done. Never! Don’t even be mistaken that I am saying that a least-important-task should be put into your on-hold bin until there is a time where you are free to complete that task. That task should not be complete, ever, in this lifetime, if there are more important tasks in your hand.

Importance is Subjective

What matters more is subjective. Deciding how important a task is can be sometimes difficult. It depends on how critical is the task to your strategy, the task urgency level, and the current situation.


Some tasks are so important that they need to be done or else dire consequences will follow. These are the critical task. There is no way of avoiding these task which out suffering huge losses in life.


All tasks that you choose to do should provide some sort of benefit. Thus, all tasks that you do are important. Even the most trivial task like brushing your teeth and washing your hands can have greater impact to your life than your vocation.

You must be aware of how each and every task that you do provides benefit that contributes to your goal. Some task provides more benefit thus more impact, others less.
Only then will you be able to determine which is more important.


Some tasks have to be done right away as soon as those tasks appear. However, not all urgent tasks are critical. Some urgent tasks can be ignored without suffering any noticeable consequences. Some can be delegated or delayed without jeopardizing any good will. Other urgent task can be simply completed with lower quality, saving us time and effort, without impacting our long-term goals.


Things change. What is not important now can suddenly be more important. Datelines can suddenly be cut short, opportunities can suddenly becomes scare. You must revise your strategy and change the importance of your task according to your situation. The key to success is objectivity, adaption, and improvisation.


Simplified Priority level

In electronics, all requests that is made into the microprocessor have priority levels. The priority levels are clear-cut. There is no confusion. Request with Level 1 priority beats requests Level 2 priority. We will categorize our tasks priority into clear cut manner.

The priority levels are as below:

H – High
M1 – Medium High
M2 – Medium Medium
M3 – Medium Low
L –Low

You might be asking why there is no H1, H2, H3, L1, L2, or L3. Well, I am keeping the priorities level simple. All high priorities task needs to be completed so there is no point putting additional level for high priorities. All low priorities task are too trivial. It doesn’t matter much which task you complete. If you have the time but can’t decide, just simply grab one.

Stop Doing the Least Important Task When Interrupted

One of the productivity pitfalls that people felt into happens when they are interrupted. Especially when we are interrupted contacting by trivial issues. We stop doing our current task and instead focus our attention on the new task without giving a hoot on whether it is important or not!? This habit is like a plague. It does not make sense at all once you realize how illogical the situation.

Follow the process flow below if you wish to redeem your productive self.

End note

The-principle-of-least-important states that the least important task in your life does not get done. You will need to be able to determine the importance of your task according to your long-term strategy, the task criticalness and urgency, and the current situation. Lastly, do not let the less important task interrupt your more important task

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