Don’t have time for anything? Tasks pile up like a snowball? Everything falls out of hand? Well, you need to develop time management and prioritization skills. To make sure this doesn’t become a new overwhelming task, we’ve prepared an article that has all the essentials.
The basic idea that 99% of books, articles, videos, movies, insights, courses, and advice on time management boils down to.
“Plan your time and analyze the execution of your plan. Daily, weekly and monthly. Sort things into urgent/not too urgent and important/not too important. Act on these priorities. Be realistic, get rid of unnecessary things, say no, reward yourself for successes.”
That’s it. Useful? Well, it probably makes sense. Now let’s break it down, come on.
It’s About People and Their Tendency to Make a Mess of Things
People are irrational, they like to do strange things, and they regularly act not as they should, but as they are used to, as they like, as it’s easier (and as the rebellious heart dictates). In general, being irrational is a good and useful thing, because that is how nature intended it.
However, irrational behavior rarely helps you achieve what you want. When it comes to working with measurable results, you have to use your common sense and act according to a plan.
Eisenhower and His Priority Matrix
Dwight Eisenhower’s life included two World Wars, directing the Normandy landings, the 34th U.S. Presidency, and running Columbia University. In short, he was a big man who understood something about the world.
The Eisenhower decision-making method was described by Stephen Covey as the Eisenhower Matrix. Take all your to-dos, write them down, and analyze them through three questions:
- Was the task urgent for me?
- Was the task important to me?
- Was I the only one who could accomplish the task?
By evaluating urgency and importance from the perspective of the world-you are throwing off your optics and ceasing to live in your best interests. An urgent task from a friend that won’t get you ready for an exam is urgent for him, but not for you.
Having assessed the tasks for the three questions, scatter them on the Eisenhower matrix and see where the most piled up.
Urgent and Important Tasks
Cure a bad tooth, put out a fire, and prepare for tomorrow’s exam. You have to act fast here, and the cost of failure is high.
For most of these tasks, either you have force majeure, or you have a tendency to procrastinate and get distracted by little things.
So what to do? Try with all your might to keep this square empty. Sudden crises are inevitable, but everything else can be monitored in advance. Tasks coming from other people? It’s time to say no. Tasks piling up because of laziness or interference? Let’s change priorities. Force majeure on force majeure? So you’re leaving a lot of room for distress – it’s time to shrink it.
Important but Not Too Urgent Tasks
This is where almost all long-term tasks go, whether it’s working out, taking courses, or learning languages. These things have a high strategic value because their outcome will allow you to grow above yourself.
If these tasks are the majority – you are a great steward of your time! But finish the article anyway, or you might not.
What to do with them? Execute at your chosen pace, occasionally distracted by the emptying of other squares.
Urgent, but Insignificant Tasks
Checking email, studying chat rooms, or doing the dishes. There is almost always a routine or someone else’s business here. Don’t give in!
If these tasks are the majority – you are drowning in false urgency. You think that you are busy and productive, but in fact, the results don’t do you any good. You have less and less time to do other things, and the clouds are thickening.
What to do about them? Delegate. To friends, family, colleagues. Altruism is one of our species’ chips. And then there are apps, delivery services, and online stores that are willing to take over your business.
And if delegating isn’t possible? Then try to reduce the number of such tasks in advance. Turn off alerts on your smartphone, say “no,” assess your workload.
You can also just do them! But only if the first two squares are empty.
Not Too Urgent, Not Too Important
This is where all your time killers come in. Series, 5,000 hours at https://20bet.com/prematch, and so on.
If these tasks are most of them, you have a problem. Either you’re stressed out about useless things, or you’re on your way to doing them, or you’ve stopped in your life and are just waiting for something you don’t understand.
What to do about them? Limit temptations, train discipline and willpower. Clueless activities breed clueless days. Series will be forgotten, games will cease to attract, and endless stories less important to those around you than it may seem – but you can’t get back the time you’ve wasted.
The system requires learning, so we suggest first practicing on fictional tasks, then moving on to real tasks – and eventually limiting yourself to mentally calculating your priorities. That way your unconscious analysis (i.e. literally your intuition) will automatically begin to tell you the right order of work. It’s a matter of a couple of months.
The simplicity and consistency of the Eisenhower matrix is the natural enemy of complex chaos, in which it’s easy to drown.
All That’s Left Is the Routine
The unusual measure of success is to do as often as possible what one wants and as rarely as possible what one does not want. But even emperors have to engage in monotonous tasks because that’s life.
Try the Tomato method. It sounds silly, but it’s extremely popular, as reliable as a Swiss watch, and is designed to play with your brain.
After a week of such work, you will find that dull things no longer make you nervous. Your brain has learned that torment is followed by reward. Your nervous system isn’t overwhelmed by the interruptions. You watch previously unpleasant tasks being successfully completed – it feels good.
About Domestic Priorities and the 1-1-1-1 Method
This is another valuable technique for getting things done.
Think about the value of the task in the perspective of 1 day, 1 week, 1 month, and 1 year. It’s sobering and helps you overcome your addiction to nonsense.
PUBG or Tanks will bring fun for a few minutes (if you’re lucky). But will you remember it in a week?
Brushing your teeth is annoying – you can safely skip an evening and nothing will happen. However, how much will the treatment cost in 10 years, and how do you plan to chew your food in another 30 years? Ask your elders how much it costs to get a good filling – the answer will raise your eyebrows.
Even today, when you’re grabbing a case, ask yourself – what difference will the result make tomorrow? And next Monday? How about March? How about 2023?
All this will help you weed out emotional motivations from rational truth and get out on a solid path to your goal.
How to Estimate Goals Over Time
Proven methodology for project managers, producers, and executives at all levels.
- Estimate how long it will take to complete the task in the best case and in the worst case.
- Add up those numbers.
- Divide them by two.
- Then add 20% on top of that.
- Done! Now you have an average time to complete the task and a reserve for problems.
At the end of the day, wherever there are people, there is no certainty. The above time estimate isn’t always perfect, but it helps to avoid wandering into the darkness unnecessarily. Even a little light is better than nothing.
The Biggest Mistakes in Time Management and Prioritization
Unrealistic Assessment of the Situation and Your Capabilities
There is no quick fix. Everything will come with experience, provided you make sense of the results and ask yourself questions.
Endlessly Reading Articles About Time Management and Trying to Optimize Your Life
The good old procrastination trap. Instead of doing things a person spends a billion years thinking of all the possible options and approaches. Learn the basics and immediately apply them in practice, and then life will show.
Switch Between Tasks Without Bringing Them to Completion or a Steady Pause
This is probably the biggest mistake. The brain needs time to absorb and adjust. Don’t torture it by jumping around, so you’ll only waste time and get no results. Ignore the imagined sense of urgency or insight – it’s a trap!
Spending all your time on insignificant, time-consuming tasks will leave you without energy and surrounded by problems. Study the Eisenhower matrix, adapt it to your life, and after a month or two your intuition will begin to tell you the right order of action.
Some Useful Apps
Organizing your tasks makes your work easier and ensures that you don’t forget anything. There are many services for this, and here are the best offers.
If you’re thinking in lists, WorkFlowy will be your dream planner. There are lists, lists with lists and lists – complete lists with lists. It’s simple and visual, nothing too much, and it’s also free and constantly improving.
If you think in pictures, Miro will change your life. It’s a huge virtual whiteboard on which you can stick stickers, diagrams, draw things and all that. Less text, more graphics, it couldn’t be more visual. But there’s a “but” – there’s so much stuff you can get lost.
If you work on multiple fronts, need both text and graphics and calendars, and also want space to grow, nothing better than Notion has been invented yet. It’s a text editor with a thousand features. At the same time, it’s easy to learn, beautiful – and can be customized to your taste.