|Posted on July 26, 2011 at 4:47 PM||comments (0)|
How to Prioritize by Importance – And Stick to It
How can you start concentration on what really matters, instead of on what seems most pressing?
The Four Quadrants
There’s a useful technique in time-management that involves dividing your tasks into a grid with four “quadrants”, which are:
Urgent and Important (eg. “My big report is due in three hours”
Important but Not Urgent (eg. “I’m delivering a presentation next month”
Urgent but Not Important (eg. “My library books are due back today”
Not Important and Not Urgent (eg. “I’m watching YouTube clips”
Focusing on “Important”
So how can you draw your focus back to the stuff that matters? How can you make sure you’re working on what’s truly important before it becomes urgent?
I’d suggest a few simple things:
- Get rid of your “not urgent and not important” activities. (Note – that doesn’t mean get rid of things that relax and recharge you: they are important.)
- Make sure that “urgent and not important” activities never get in the way of “important and not urgent” ones. Frankly, it’s probably better for you to work on your dissertation for two hours, instead of spending that time racing across town with your soon-to-be-overdue library books.
- Remember that “important” is a matter of perspective. Be honest with yourself about what’s important to you. Important tasks are ones which enrich your life: they don’t have to be ones that involve making money or advancing your career.
- Start off your day with an “important and not urgent” task. This might be writing a chapter of your novel, getting some exercise, sorting out your tax return, learning a new language... as per the previous point, you define what’s important to you.
|Posted on July 20, 2011 at 8:11 PM||comments (0)|
When you prioritize, you're determining what needs to get done, and in what order you should perform those actions. Very often, one may concentrate on getting lots of easy tasks done. But just because you're crossing off tons of items on your To Do list, doesn't necessarily mean you're completing the important stuff--the tasks that will help you achieve your goals.
1. Look into the future. What do you want out of life? Do you want to play guitar well enough to be able to perform for your children? Do you want to travel the country? Do you want to have a beautiful vegetable garden in your backyard? While it is certainly important to get your day- to-day things done, it's also important to schedule in time for activities that will help you achieve the 'higher level' goals you've set for yourself.
2. Make a Master List. This is simply a long running list of everything you want to accomplish. It's in no particular order, but is essentially a holding place and a reference so you don't forget any activity and so that you're not trying to remember everything that needs to get done.
3. Scan your list and assign A, B or C. Assign each activity one of the following letter codes:
A - Those activities that are important AND urgent and will impact you greatly if you don't accomplish them right way.
B - Those activities that are important to be done, but not urgent. You have time to accomplish them before they have a great impact on your life.
C - Those activities that may be nice to do sometime, but if you don't do them, you wouldn't be terribly disappointed.
4. It's not set in stone. Your letter assignments may change over time. Just because you assign an B priority to one of your activities today, doesn't mean it has to stay a B priority. It may turn into an A priority or a C priority in the future. Use your priority assignments as a guide, but don't be reluctant to change them if the need arises.
5. Focus. Now it's time to focus on just a few activities listed on your Master List. You'll want to include a mixture of activities on your Daily To Do list. I recommend you choose three A priorities, two B priorities and one C priority. So each day, you'll have a total of 6 activities to focus on.
6. Make a schedule. Use a tool, such as the Daily Planner in the Get Organized Now! Easy Organizer, http://www.getorganizednow.com/ezorganizer.html to plan your day. Schedule in time for each of your priorities, leaving some free time throughout your day for getting daily things done (dusting, cooking, etc.) and for rest and relaxation.
7. Early bird or night owl? In general, you'll want to schedule so that you actually get those A priority tasks done, no matter what. I find that if I do my top priority tasks first thing in the morning and get them out of the way, than it's pretty smooth sailing the rest of the day. However, some people are able to better focus in the afternoon or the evening, so A priority tasks are sometimes better left for this time of day for some people. No matter what time of day you choose to focus on your A priorities, be sure you don't allow anything (except dire emergencies) to take over the time you originally scheduled to complete those priorities.
8. If something comes up . . . There are going to be times when you decide to do something in place of the activities you have initially assigned. For instance, the other day I had some activities planned for the afternoon, but a friend called and asked if I wanted to go to a local event with her in town. I weighed my options. I still had one B and one C priority on my list and I knew if I went to the event, that these would not get done today. I decided to meet her at the event, and complete the B priority I had assigned when I returned home afterwards, and I also decided to move the C priority to tomorrow.
Of course, while I do allow for flexibility in my schedule from time to time, I don't make a habit out of doing this.
Most of the time, I stick to getting my priorities accomplished unless something very palatable arises that is important enough to me to push some of my originally assigned activities to tomorrow or another day. Check out dozens of other scheduling tips in my book Finally Organized, Finally Free. Visit: http://www.getorganizednow.com/newbook.html
9. The next day. You'll always want six activities on your Daily To List, again three A priorities, two B priorities and one C priority --or less than 6 if you can never get 6 completed. If you did not accomplish one or more of your priorities from yesterday, those priorities should be on your list the next day--along with other priorities from your Master List to take the place of those priorities that you did manage to accomplish yesterday.
10. Reward yourself. If you follow this system, you will get an enormous amount of important things done, and you'll more easily be able to reach your goals. As you get things done, particularly your A priorities, reward yourself along the way. For instance, you can sprinkle mini rewards throughout your day, such as a walk in the park or an outing with a friend. A more major reward should be enjoyed when you accomplish something big, such as passing a major exam or remodeling a room in your home.
|Posted on May 17, 2011 at 11:16 PM||comments (0)|
A. Allot yourself a specific amount of time for each task.
People with ADD often have a poor sense of time. Instead of giving yourself all day to finish that report, give yourself two hours. Set an alarm or a computer alert to go off when time's up.
B. Each morning, list your top 10 "to-do" items.
This keeps you on track during the day. Write them on a white erasable board. If your priorities shift, alter the list with the swipe of a paper towel.
C. When setting a time to get together/an appointment underpromise and overdeliver. That is, say you'll be there by such-and-such a time, but get there early.
D. Set not one alarm, but two: Starting with the time of your appointment, work backward until you figure out when you need to leave your home or workplace. Set an alarm clock or watch (or a cell phone or computer) to go off five minutes before that time—and a second alarm to go off five minutes later.
When the first alarm sounds, stop whatever you're doing and jot a quick sentence or two on a sticky note indicating where you left off. Try to be out of the door before the second alarm sounds.
E. Break out of hyperfocus. If you tend to lose yourself on eBay, set an alarm clock, kitchen timer, or computer alert—or arrange for someone reliable to call you at a specified time.
F. Join an ADD support group. Members can get together online when it’s time to tackle boring tasks,like filling out tax returns or filing: One at a time, each person leaves the computer, dedicates 15 minutes to the task at hand, then returns to instant messaging—to joke, commiserate, and congratulate one another. Find out more about support groups at chadd.org.
G. Create a “launch pad” near the front door. Create cubbies, pegs, hooks, or containers to stash things that family members need each time they leave the house—umbrellas, school backpacks, briefcases, pocketbooks, keys, scarves, and so on.
|Posted on May 16, 2011 at 12:59 PM||comments (0)|
This will help cut down on morning panic.
1. Lay out your clothes for tomorrow.
Don't try to decide what to wear in the morning, while everyone is rushing about. As you lay out your clothes, let your children see you do it. Set a timer and turn it into a game.
2. Gather everything that you'll need to walk out the door in the morning.
Set up a "launch pad" by your front door. Encourage family members to use it for backpacks, projects, briefcases, and so on. If you set the example, your children will begin to use the pad too.
3. Go to bed in time to get enough sleep.
Admit it, you are trying to function on too little sleep. This has to stop! Establish a bedtime for everyone in the house, including yourself. When you get the rest you need, you set an example for your children - and give them the reward of a parent who is not grouchy."
|Posted on May 13, 2011 at 9:44 AM||comments (0)|
Ask yourself what you are assuming will happen if you try. Is there another way this could possibly turn out?
A way to beat procrastination is to cut tasks into pieces. Keep reducing the piece of the task until you can say, 'I can do this easily.'
"10-minute rule." Commit to working at a large job for only 10 minutes. Tell yourself you can stop after that, guilt-free. Since getting started is often the hardest part, you're likely to keep going.
Maintenance Messages to remind and focus:
|Posted on May 13, 2011 at 8:10 AM||comments (0)|
"Little tricks help me beat the old habits (from stevepavlina.com):
#Be prepared : If I have to make 7 appointments in one session on the phone, then I have a prepopulated call list to work on. This way I will tackle the job. If I havent done the preparation I find my mind wanders to more pleasing tasks like browsing the net or reading a book.
#Workstation: Have only the items you need to work actually turned on. If I have paperwork to do, I find if I turn the computer on I will get distracted by checking emails etc. Keep these things off unless you need them.
#Avoid distractions: If you work from home and have a partner/children, explain to them that your workspace is sacred and should be respected just like any downtown office block. Explain you find it difficult to work with distractions and that you appreciate their help.
#Keep your Office Clean and GTD'd: Any untidy office will sidetrack you, you can be sure of it. I have lost count of the number of times whilst looking for something I have stumbled upon something else and have gotten sidetracked before I knew 30 minutes had passed. Get that space cleaned up and filed tidy.
#PPP: Pre Planned Procrastination: Schedule your day 30 minutes earlier and use those 30 minutes before you start your planned work, to do all those little things that sidetrack you or send you off course, like browsing your favourite forums and checking personal emails."
|Posted on May 13, 2011 at 4:10 AM||comments (0)|
"The best method for setting priorities on your list, once you have determined your major goals or objectives, is the A-B-C-D-E Method. You place one of those letters in the margin before each of the tasks on your list before you begin.
“A” stands for “very important;” something you must do. There can be serious negative consequences if you don’t do it.
“B” stands for “important;” something you should do. This is not as important as your ‘A’ tasks. There are only minor negative consequences if it is not completed.
“C” stands for things that are “nice to do;” but which are not as important as ‘A’ or ‘B,’ tasks. There are no negative consequences for not completing it.
“D” stands for “delegate.” You can assign this task to someone else who can do the job instead of you.
“E” stands for “eliminate, whenever possible.” You should eliminate every single activity you possibly can, to free up your time."
a.k.a Prioritizing the Brian Tracy Way!!
|Posted on May 13, 2011 at 3:48 AM||comments (0)|
Cool shite from Linkedin:
"WHAT WE LINK PLEASURE TO, AND WHAT WE LINK PAIN TO, DETERMINES OUR DESTINY.
I think people like you and me need to concentrate emotionally on the benefits of organization and time management, enjoy that process, and always keep in mind that that life-management does not enslave us, but frees us.
Also, as just an off-the-cuff-idea, this may mean that only 4 hours of our day may need to be highly controlled, leaving the rest flexible."