Learning how to prioritize your tasks is key to having a productive day.
Being more productive plays a huge role in your success.
Higher productivity simply means optimizing your daily schedule. By staying organized and focused, you'll become more productive. However, finding the right things to focus on can be overwhelming when your task list is a big one.
As Steven Covey wrote in "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People", "The key is not to prioritize what's on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities."
I am going to walk you through a couple of the more well-known and well-used methods. Whichever one seems to resonate best with you is how you can start assigning priority levels to your tasks.
The first one is known as the Eisenhower matrix, cut into four different sections, and it was developed by President Dwight D Eisenhower.
Eisenhower Matrix Section One - Urgent and Important
In this first section would be your urgent and important tasks. These are activities that are emergencies, things left for the last minute, and now they’ve reached a crisis point.
The above activities shouldn’t really pop up all that often for you on an everyday basis. If they are, then they need to be looked at so you can develop systems around them and do more planning in advance.
This section is where people find themselves getting burnt out, stressed, and out of control.
Eisenhower Matrix Section Two - Not Urgent, but Important
These are activities that are moving you towards your long term goals. These are important tasks but not tasks that are urgent and need immediate attention. Think of these as tasks that will be beneficial to you in the long term. It's what I like to call the planning area.
This is where you should be spending most of your time. The not urgent and important category will help you to see where you need to develop systems, enabling you to better plan for future growth, long-term perspective, and a calm control over business strategy.
Eisenhower Matrix Section Three - Urgent, but not Important
The third section is for the activities zapping your time and energy without contributing to the longer-term benefits. They keep you busy, but they don’t really have value. Phone calls, emails, meetings, and requests that other people make of you, but are not necessarily directly related to your goals.
Spending too much time in this section will delay your progress and jeopardize deadlines.
This is a great section where delegation comes into play. By delegating many of these tasks, your business keeps flowing but you don't get stuck in the daily grind.
Eisenhower Matrix Section Four - Not Urgent and Not Important
The not urgent and not important section is for things that are not focused on making a profit, tasks that can be reduced by not spending a lot of time or effort on them, or they can be reassigned to Section 3 and delegated to someone else to look at.
This is the section that many people find struggle with and includes surfing the web, purely social time on Facebook, playing games, etc.
The second method is called ABCDE by Brian Tracy. You take the items on your list and categorize them A through E.
A-Category: Most Important
A is defined by something you must do, or there can be serious consequences. You will often hear this referred to as “these are the frogs in your life.
If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first ~ Mark Twain
B-Category: Minor Consequences
These are like the tadpoles of your work life. That means someone might be unhappy or inconvenienced if you don’t do it but it’s nowhere as important as an A task.
The rule is to never do a B task when there is an undone A task. You should never be distracted by tadpoles when there’s a big frog sitting there waiting to be eaten.
C-Category: No Consequences
A task that falls under this category is something nice to do, but there’s not really a consequence whether you do it or not. This would be like phoning a friend, having coffee or lunch with a friend, or completing some kind of personal business during your work hours. As a rule, never complete a C task if there’s an A and B left undone.
Something you can definitely delegate. Essentially, the rule is you should delegate anything you possibly can to free up more time to be able to engage in your tasks that are under the A category. Completing your A tasks is what determines the course of your entire day.
An E activity is an activity you should think about eliminating altogether. After all, you can only get your time under control if you stop doing things that are no longer necessary for you to do.
The key to making the ABCDE method work for you is to discipline yourself to start immediately on that one single most important and then stay at it until it’s complete. In other words, eat the whole frog and don’t stop until it’s finished completely.
These are just two possible methods to choose from. It's about recognizing the need to work smarter, not harder. It requires a commitment to implementing a system that will work for you.
A study by Atlassian shows that 60% or less of work time is actually spent productively.
Following a routine and putting a few strategies in place to organize your day can change that figure dramatically.
Find out how I can support you in stopping the overwhelm and struggle. By putting a process in place, you'll not only have structure in your day but you'll be getting more done in less time. Just imagine what it will feel like when you wake up and proactively run your day like a champ!
If you struggle with managing your time or staying focused on the must-do tasks, Pamela is your business soulmate.