Shaurya Agrawal



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A Guide to Prioritization and Minimization

Shaurya Agrawal's photo
Shaurya Agrawal
·Oct 16, 2022·

5 min read

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An incident occurred today due to which my anxiety sky rocketed. I had absolutely no clue what to do with my life. Or perhaps I did but in the persuit of finding more things to do, I ended up making a mess of my priorities. I felt as if all that I have built up in the past one year crumbled down to bits.

I blocked a time on the calendar to write this blog but I figured I would instead first do a quick check up on my priorities. First, I wanted to make the most of my iPad. It had been eating dust because I do most of my work on my laptop. What I observed after opening it were numerous pointless apps. I viewed each and every one of f them and ended up deleting at least ten. But even out of the ones which I decided must remain, proved to be of little significance. I had just wasted a lumpsum amount of time. I spent two hours doing stuff similar to that. At the end, I was really frustrated with myself. I decided that going on and on like this won't help. I took a deep breathe in and made a decision on seeing my "tasks" at a micro level. Instead of searching for more projects to start or skills to have, I looked at what I already had and how I could level them up. And this small pause completely changed the rest of my day.

There are various suggestions from places like the internet about side hustles you can possibly start, essays you can write, etc. It's easy to get confused at this stage. When you see all these youtube videos on the topics mentioned above, you may feel like, hey, there are so many things out there then why amn't I doing them? Why am I still here sitting on my chair being reminded of the things which I knew I can do but I am not doing?

I read articles and books, saw videos on how I could be more productive and more intentional with what I was doing. But at the end, none of them worked. The advice was absolutely pointless.

After reading Steve Jobs's biography, I realized the truly meaning of minimalism. Minimalism isn't about having one bowl in the kitchen or about having no chairs. It's about eliminating the things which you don't prioritize. Minimalism is indeed synonymous to essentialism. The process of making life simpler by eliminating the unnecessary is honestly, pretty complex. Why is it so hard to choose any one between two things? The answer is obvious. This is due to the fact that if you choose only one, then you won't be able to experience the outcome of choosing the other one. You can make this decision by judging it on widely two basis:

  • Functionality

  • Aestheticism

This is where the principle: "Less is more" is applicable at. The less priorities you have, the more you will be able to focus on them.

It is also important to remember that being productive isn't about doing more tasks, its about doing less but with complete attention and focus.

Whenever we are in a dilemma, its usually because on the scale of 100%, we are willing to do 49% one thing and 51% the other. We usually end up saying that maybe someday this will help me or perhaps that this particular task won't take much time so it should be fine. In this world where there are more things to explore and do, it is important to realize that we must say "no" to some of them. Derek Sivers discusses about decision making in his book "Hell Yeah or No". He says that whenever a task comes up we must say no if we think that this chore maybe needs a yes.

Though, this principal may not be applicable to people like me, i.e., students. The reason being: we need to undertake projects against our liking.

While deciding between two tasks, it is also sometimes important to see it as an experiment. With just that slight change in approaching things, we could switch from seeing it as a chore to analyzing it as a test with a sense of mystery. This would literally make the task ten times more engaging and we won't mourn about losing the experience we could have gained if we chose the second option.

The "Why Whirpool" is another way which could aid in decision making. It refers to digging the problem to its fundamentals. In a dilemma, there is always that indistinguishable difference between two options. It is only by observing the most of their fundamentals that we will be able to find it out. We can execute this by asking "why" at each stage.

I was a huge fan of Notion, or rather, I wanted to be a fan of notion. I used to see people using notion "effectively" along with keeping the aesthetics in mind. I could never really bring myself to use all those pre-made templates. I used to try one of them, change it up a bit and decide that from then I'd be more productive and use notion regularly. At the end, it would just be a pile of dust.

I then one day decided to make my own template, and it worked! I've been using it since a month and found it to be extremely effective and life-changing. The reason behind this change was that when I made the template, I knew exactly what I needed to add. I focused on what "I" needed rather than copying some other person's thoughts. I decided not to focus much on aesthetics and give more attention to how I could force myself to use it everyday. Eventually, as I kept developing it, the aesthetics followed. And this is what happens when you work on something that you truly love.

You may find pre-made templates, YouTube videos, etc, but those will only guide you. In this wide range of options, but it is only you which can turn them into possibilities.

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