Important But Not Urgent

I’ve tried many different to-do lists and life tracking methods. I find very few stick.

For 2021, I have a spreadsheet that’s been working well. There are 3 tabs for daily, weekly, and monthly tracking.

On the daily tab, each evening I input creative hours worked, overall feeling from -2 to +2, if I did my Morning Pages, if I meditated for 30 minutes, if I wrote any new words during the day, and a play-by-play description of the day’s events. Like Jim Collins, from whom the spreadsheet derives, my goal is to keep creative hours exceeding 1,000 per year.

On the weekly tab, I paste a link to my Friday blog post, then record all financial positions and accounts to graph my total net worth and reflect on cashflow.

On the monthly tab, I have a column for potential books to read, projects to pursue, and miscellaneous things to check out. The idea is to log things as they come up then re-visit my information diet a few times per year and remove non-actionable stuff.

The monthly tab is the worst. It’s nice to have a place to store books I want to read in the future, but I tend to ignore it overall.

Of the many projects I’d like to do, important but non-urgent “life logistics” tend to be a significant weakness. Writing a last will and testament, switching from Gmail to Hey, creating a board of directors for my life (as Drew discusses at 73:47), upgrading my contact and content management…all these tend to be great in theory but difficult to prioritize.

Today I’m starting a new habit designed to fix this. I will commit to an official weekly life-logistical decision or project, then write about it. I’ll have a new column in my spreadsheet for the link to that post, and it’s fine if the two weekly writings happen to be the same.

This new commitment will force me to regularly ship something or admit failure, bringing my lived values in closer alignment with my ideal values while building a catalog of reflections on motivation. As Tiger shares with us (starting around minute 82), it’s better to say “I’m going to lose 2 pounds this week” rather than “I’m going to lose 100 pounds this year.”

One theme of my life-logistical desires is fine-tuning towards simplification. It’s satisfying when I only have one online presence or walk around without a cell phone.

This week, I implemented a daily alarm clock to wake-up at 6am, whereupon I drink a bit of coffee while writing my Morning Pages. This forced schedule has done wonders for me.

All the excuses are removed for sleeping in and exploiting my structureless funemployment. Many mindlessly-wasted, inert hours are reclaimed from the previous night’s former anime chess binge zone and shifted into sleep + more meaningful, mindful, morning living.

I know that I hit peak creative focus in the morning, when there’s silence in my soul and a lot of potential left in the day. I like having a lot of room for a leisurely early breakfast, an uninterrupted chunk of work, some form of exercise, and meditation.

The data proves it. My daily evaluation hit +2 for the first time in 2021, and it is higher on average than the preceeding weeks. I attribute a lot to the mindset around this new habit, which says “I have a reason to get up and start the day well.”

It’s easier to avoid a downhill slope than to fight an uphill battle, but I certainly rolled down a few this week. One challenge was discovering the best coffee in Ecuador and being unable to sleep until 3am one night after trying a couple varieties of their brew in the afternoon. I’m still recovering.

To close out, I have an urge to list all my future projects, but they really aren’t worth discussing. In the spirit of Brett’s top 2 prioritization technique, this new weekly post also helps organize my thoughts and eliminate the entire backlog.


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