importantTo get organized the word “important” needs to be used carefully.

If “important” is used too much then there is no distinction and the most important stuff can get buried in the less important stuff.  Put another way, if everything is important then nothing is important.

If “important” is used too little then important is seen as a small category unto itself.  Since it’s small, there’s no distinction between important things to act upon and important things to find reliably.   Since it’s small, there’s no distinction between home, medical, banking, auto etc.

The reality is, this small category doesn’t stay small, just because we want to think of it as small.  If something is important, we don’t want to have it hidden away in a drawer.  We are more likely to trust the desk surface.  We believe we won’t lose it if we can see it and we are more likely to act on something if it’s out where we can see it.  So the items we must make a point of acting on AND the items we must find reliably pile up on what is actually our MOST important organizing tool: a clear work surface.

Another thing that can become indistinguishable, then, is the outlook of “everything is important” and the outlook of “important is a category.”  They both represent equal treatment, which means our stuff won’t progress forward.  Time marches on and the same item that we categorized as important two weeks ago can be rubbish today.  Mixing all important items together makes for an unmanageable category.  We may intend for the everything to be important or we may intend for “important” to be a small category.  Either way, there will appear to be too many action items to act on, so we don’t.

Whether we are keeping everything because it is important or keeping all important items in just one category, we do it because we believe it makes us safe.  It does not.  What makes us safe is acting upon important items that require action and being able to find important items when we need them.  Both of these things are compromised by hanging on to the excess that inevitably comes from equal treatment.