The Core Principle of Productivity – M.Perman

Here it is: Know what’s important and put it first.

…This principle becomes especially clear when we contrast it with its opposite. A lot of times we simply seek to capture and organize all the things vying for our attention, thinking that if we can just get all those things under control, we will then have time to do the important things.

But that never works. The smaller tasks always multiply, so if you try to take a bottom-up approach to your productivity, you will be directed by the course of events rather than charting your own course and accomplishing the things you are called to do.

What you need to do is define what’s important first and then take a look at what’s before you and identify what you are and are not going to do. This is a top-down, proactive approach to getting things done.

It doesn’t mean that the little stuff doesn’t matter or that it can be overlooked. Much of the little stuff does need to be done. But identifying the most important things and doing them first makes the smaller stuff fall into place. The reverse approach – focusing on the smaller things and trying to fit the larger stuff in where you can – does not work and is a recipe for frustration.

I think Stephen Covey has stated this the best: ‘Don’t prioritize your schedule; schedule your priorities.’ That’s the core principle in seven words. You can’t do everything, so identify the most important things and make everything else work around them.

Whats Best Next -PermanMatt Perman in chapter 10, “The Core Principle for Making Yourself Effective,” as found in What’s Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done (Zondervan, 2014), pp.131-32.

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