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How to Set Priorities

Aug 26, 2009

by Tim

7 comments

— Do First What You Want to Do Least —

how to set priorities

Ever have trouble deciding what to do first each day, and why?

Setting priorities — a cornerstone of achievement — had always been a struggle for me until I came up with a new policy a few years ago.

So here, revealed in print — or pixels — for the second time anywhere, is Clark’s Rule About Priorities (CRAP™): Do First What You Want to Do Least.

The logic is simple: What we most dread doing is usually the thing we should do soonest.

What do you want to do least today? Apologize to your spouse? Write that report? Make an appointment for that colonoscopy? Well, do it first thing in the morning, and watch your productivity soar.

Clark’s Rule About Priorities applies equally to personal, professional, and spiritual activity (at least it applies to Clark, it may not apply to you).

For example, some years ago it became obvious that I needed to start exercising regularly if I wanted to maintain my health. I pushed through the dread and started going to a gym, but that meant time-consuming daytime commutes, two showers on gym days — and spending money.

About a year later, I realized that exercise, as the most crucial foundation of health besides diet, was, quite literally, the most important how to set prioritiesthing for me to do each day. So I switched to a daily, at-home regimen, instead of three-times-a-week at the gym. Do First What You Want to Do Least.

Now I exercise first thing each weekday morning, in the comfort of home, while watching the news. It costs nothing, no travel’s needed, and I take only one shower a day. And the habit’s so ingrained now that I no longer dread it — though I love taking weekends off from my regimen.

So get a load of CRAP™ — and see if it doesn’t change your life, as it did mine.

P.S. Remember, all of Clark’s Rules are empirically unproven, based solely on the experience of Clark, and may be completely wrong. Nonetheless, you may still enjoy:

Clark’s Law of Work” (Attractiveness is inversely proportional to compensation)

Clark’s Communication Potency Theorum” (The power of communications improve exponentially with proximity, either physical or psychological)

Clark’s Option on Opportunities Theory (COOTTM)”

7 Comments to How to Set Priorities

On Sep 9, 2009, The Simple Dollar » The Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: 400 By 40 Edition commented:

[...] How to Set Priorities Do FIRST what you want to do LEAST. This is why I usually start my days by doing email and approving comments, which are the two regular tasks I have to do that I enjoy the least. Once they’re done, I feel good, like I’ve already been productive, and it helps me to get started on my other, more enjoyable, and more intellectually challenging tasks with a more fulfilled nature. (@ soul shelter) [...]

On Sep 9, 2009, Ellen commented:

“Do First What You Want to Do Least.”
This is dead on. Prioritizing would have to be the leading cause why many of us (including myself) have let things like doctor appointments, job applications, and maybe even bills slip by day after day. It’s admirable that you have made this work for you. Keep it up! The rest of us will (hopefully) soon follow.

On Sep 9, 2009, by Tim commented:

Believe me, Ellen, I still struggle with implementing CRAP™. Thanks for cheering me on!

On Sep 9, 2009, Brittney C. commented:

Awesome! Something even a procrastinator like me can jump on board with :)

On Sep 10, 2009, Elizabeth commented:

You know, the more I think about this, the more it makes complete sense.

On Sep 10, 2009, by Tim commented:

It seems that being human means NOT being built to automatically perceive, know, and act upon what is truly important. Maybe such ability is what distinguishes people of great accomplishment?

On Sep 16, 2009, The Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: 400 By 40 Edition : Frugal Living News commented:

[...] How to Set Priorities Do FIRST what you want to do LEAST. This is why I usually start my days by doing email and approving comments, which are the two regular tasks I have to do that I enjoy the least. Once they’re done, I feel good, like I’ve already been productive, and it helps me to get started on my other, more enjoyable, and more intellectually challenging tasks with a more fulfilled nature. (@ soul shelter) [...]

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