Ever get the feeling you’re working hard, but spinning your wheels and not accomplishing much?
Somehow it always seems to happen that when you compile your “to do” list, by the end of the day many important things never get done.
You’re not alone. And it’s not because of a lack of focus, but instead it’s a failure to prioritize.
Here’s a tried and true method that will not only help you maximize your time, but allow you to complete those things that are important to you in an organized way. Adapted from Stephen Convey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and NAPO’s Fundamental Organizing Principles.
Assign a priority value to each of your “to do” items in the following way:
A) Urgent and Important; example: someone is injured and needs immediate care. It’s urgent because they need care right this minute and it’s important because the consequences can be serious. Priority? Drop everything and do it now!
B) Urgent but not Important; example: the notification sound of an incoming email. It sounds urgent because of the noise, but most often it’s not important. Most email can wait to be processed until a designated time period. Priority? Avoid reacting to a false sense of urgency and schedule this activity into your time appropriately.
C) Important but Not Urgent; example: lifestyle activities such as exercise, proper nutrition, sleep and long term projects may often be neglected until they become urgent and by then they become a crisis. Priority? Schedule these activities first and foremost and fit the others in between.
D) Neither Urgent nor Important; example: everything that does not contribute to your governing goals and will not have detrimental consequences. i.e. getting lost surfing the web or spending too much time engaging in social media. Priority? Eliminate these unproductive time wasters from your schedule and replace them with activities that contribute to your goals.
It’s helpful to remember important things are not always urgent. Urgent is time sensitive and needs to be accomplished immediately. Important identifies anything that will result in negative consequences if not completed in a timely manner.
Many things most classify as urgent are often unimportant and they don’t contribute to our long term goals.
It’s not surprising that many waste time reacting to so called urgencies and it’s essential to evaluate if they are truly important.
I’d love to hear about the ways you prioritize your “to do” list? Please e-mail me your comments!