Is what you do important? Or maybe you see it as an urgent matter? Are there any tasks or actions that you postponed or just consciously discard? Or maybe everything is on your back and everything is just so important and so urgent? Well now…tell the truth!
We have been living in an information overload for years now. It’s a constant rush, everything changes all the time, and every so often someone brings some extra tasks for us to take care of. We are unable to remember everything and there are times when we just can’t control the chaos around us. Right now, it’s even worse – you have to save your PnL, trying to sustain your contracts and juggle the accounts to keep the cash flow going.
Most people act very reactive and they just soldier on with their activities, constantly absorbing more and more into their, already full, calendars. So, we can do what we can, but in most cases, you just can’t do it all by yourself. On top of that we have a tendency to waste a lot of time on topics completely irrelevant to us or our business.
The basis for many trainings and workshops on productivity is the Eisenhower Matrix. The creator of this idea is Dwight David Eisenhower – a US Army General and a former US president. He is considered one of the country’s most productive heads of state.
You can understand this easy tool though hearing his motto:
“I have two kinds of problems, the urgent and the important. The urgent are not important, and the important are never urgent.”
Based on that this methodology is built on. As we take the two dimensions – urgency and importance, we get 4 types of tasks – important /urgent, important / not urgent, not important / urgent, not important / not urgent. So now, please take a good long look at your calendar and tasks you have there, evaluate which activity, goal or meeting you can put in which category. Now that you have it, look what you should do with them:
- Important / Urgent tasks – it’s usually “firefighting” activities, so there is no reason to wait or postpone them, so do them as quickly as possible. The key is analyzing if they occur because You neglected or postponed something, made a wrong choice in the past or it could be avoided in any way and make adjustments in the future
- Important / Not urgent tasks – these are Your goals and should be the most important category for you, because you should be planning those activities. Usually they are things important for development of Yourself or Your business
- Not Important / Urgent tasks – here you can find activities that are not yours, but You allowed them to become them. Working with this category is very difficult, because – as a manager you will need to improve on Your delegating skills, or work on Your assertiveness or even in some instances abandon the role of a hero looking for someone/something to save
- Not Important / Not urgent tasks – here’s a tough one – you can find here all of Your procrastination and your ways of escaping from responsible tasks or they might be just completely insignificant activities. They all should be reduced to 0 right away! Sometimes people try to defend some of those things by saying that they are just a way to regenerate between tasks. You can’t seriously believe that, huh?
When planning the upcoming work week, do this exercise and see what you should be focused on, what to plan, what you can delegate and what you can get rid of completely. I would only leave some time for a retrospective and a moment to review your activities, goals and how you’re approaching them.
And, what do you think? Is everything that you are working on is sooo important and sooo urgent? Or maybe there is room for improvement? But to wrap things up I will ask you – in the midst of this crisis, when the PnL is very reluctant to be balanced, can you afford such a waste of a valuable asset as your time? Think twice and answer but are you sure you’re confident in this answer?
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