I grabbed lunch yesterday with a friend who has long been one of my unofficial productivity coaches. Our meeting was spurred by this post, where I discussed how we best process the mountains of incoming data hitting our radar every day. We talked about systems, processes, and other nerd-like topics that probably made the free spirits at Chili’s want to spew out their baby back baby back baby back ribs.

Our conversation – and the tools he shared with me – reminded me that there is no such thing as “leftover time” in our day. There will rarely be a moment that is unaccounted for; rarely be an hour where we’re twiddling our thumbs and looking for something to do. On the contrary: most of the time what we do not have is time.

That’s why every day should be marked by your main tasks…your big rocks…your non negotiables that will occur that day, regardless of what else happens.

A couple of years ago I read Ken Blanchard’s On Time, On Target Manager. In it, he tackles the topic of procrastination, and says that people procrastinate because they don’t know what is important. They put off main tasks because they don’t know they’re supposed to be main tasks. That’s why Blanchard suggests that every single day, you should triage every single activity. You should ask, “Is this vital?” “Is this necessary?” “Is this important?”

While I don’t triage my activities every day, the days that I do tend to be most productive. If I know that I’ve got to write some teaching material or review a budget or make a phone call, it makes it much easier to knock those things out early and leave the rest of the day for more menial tasks.

That doesn’t just apply to work life, but to family and spiritual life as well. What are the non-negotiables in your time with your spouse? Your kids? With Jesus?

Today’s question: how do you triage?