In software development, as well as other industries, you’ll sometimes hear the term, “minimum viable product.” Essentially, this is a product that has only the critical features—just enough to get it off the ground and out the door. Iterations and updates may be made down the road, but the first step is to nail down the core features that are absolute necessary for the product.

The same concept can be used when talking about how we plan our day. For instance, what would a “minimum viable day” look like? What would be the one, or two, or three things absolute essential to a “successful” day? Or, put another way, what are the things that, if they were missing, would make the day feel incomplete?

Each of our answers will be highly individualized, varying from person to person. And although there is no “right” answer, it can still be a helpful exercise to think through. Maybe there are certain activities that help “sharpen the saw” that you find critical to a successful day—perhaps exercise, or study, or meditation. Maybe there’s a certain relationship that needs quality time everyday, or some other practice or ritual that provides great value for you that you don’t want to do without.

The value in thinking about what the absolute essentials are is that, first, it helps clarify what’s most important to us. The things that we find necessary—or want to be necessary—tell a great deal about our values.

Clarifying what’s essential also gives us a filter to prioritize things that come up through the day. If we’ve thought through what the few essential things are for a viable day, we’re better prepared to choose them when there are other non-essentias vying for our time.

Of course, knowing what’s most important, and actually implementing it, are two different things. But knowing is a good first step, and can help us set up habits that will keep us from feeling like we’ve wasted a given day.