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Time, Priorities, & TED

By: Michael Blankenship |

“…even if I’m dying, until I actually die, I am still living.”

– Paul Kalanithi, When Breath Becomes Air

Greetings from LA and Oahu!

This week we’re sharing the world’s most famous TED Talks, discussing the art of prioritization, and musing about the compounding (and confounding) reality of time itself. 


Popular TED Talks

Love TED Talks? 

Us too. 

We find them insightful, fascinating, and remarkably engaging. The best of them make us contemplate some profound set of truths. 

So why not spend a bit of time this week watching the best TED Talks of all time? 

Here they are

Among them are talks such as…

And many more. 

Try watching a few. They are under 20 minutes and every single one is bound to blow your mind. 

As a side note, Talk Like TED by Carmine Gallo is a wonderful book that deconstructs the formulaic public-speaking genius behind every great TED Talk — so you can then apply those same principles to your own presentations.  

Prioritizing Everything

The above graphic (taken from RadReads) is called the Eisenhower Matrix. It splits a person’s tasks into four different quadrants based on two factors: importance and urgency.

It’s helpful to spend a few minutes thinking about your typical day and which tasks you’re getting done and which ones you’re putting off.

You’ll find that you’re primarily putting off tasks that fall in the upper right quadrant — they’re important but they’re not urgent. These are the long-term game-changing things you can do to build yourself a better life: going to the gym, building a business  , writing a book, dating your spouse, playing with your kids, etc. Those are the tasks we need to schedule time for.

The upper left quadrant, on the other hand, is full of important tasks that you’re going to get done no matter what — because they’re urgent. Do these ASAP and don’t procrastinate.

The lower left quadrant is full of tasks that you should try to delegate or automate — tedious things like meal prep, responding to emails, or scheduling.

And the lower right quadrant is your down time — video games, television, social media, etc. You can do these things, but don’t prioritize them above the others.

If you want to learn more about this matrix, then check out Stephen Covey’s book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

By the way, here’s a good supporting graphic for figuring out what’s actually important for success and wellbeing. 

Compounding & Confounding Time

Today is a paradox. 

It is both infinitely valuable and nearly meaningless.

On one hand, today — this moment — is all we ever have. And it’s therefore the most valuable point in time. 

At the same time, this moment alone can’t change very much. In fact, this moment alone can change so little that it’s nearly meaningless. 

But long strings of moments can have a big impact. 

I (Mike) recently expressed these thoughts in this way on my Facebook account…

What you do today will have almost no impact.

What you do this week will create only small ripples.

What you do this month will have *slightly* larger repercussions.

What you do this year will change the way you think, feel, and act.

What you do the next 3-5 years will change *everything* about your life.

What you do the next decade will have a significant and irrevocable impact on those around you.

Today doesn’t matter. But hundreds or thousands of today’s do.

Extra Stuff

Here is some other random stuff we found interesting this last week!

This Week’s Photo

Huang Xuhu / VCG / Getty

“A farmer picks tea leaves at a tea plantation in Hezhou, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, China, on March 19, 2022.” via The Atlantic

This Week’s Riddle

Here’s this week’s riddle — the answer is at the bottom of the email!

What is seen in the middle of March and April that can’t be seen at the beginning or end of either month?

This Week’s Question

Answer this question — either privately or by replying to this email. If your answer inspires us, then we’ll ask for permission to include it in a future email!

What’s something you’ve been prioritizing that doesn’t deserve to be prioritized so highly? 

This Week’s Challenge

Set your priorities for the week. What’s important that you’ve been procrastinating on? What’s not as important as you’ve been making it out to be?

Until next week, 

Mike & Alec

Riddle Answer: The letter “R”

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