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The Secret to Better Time Management

The Secret to Better Time Management

If you want to manage your time more effectively, focus on tasks that are important, but not urgent. Those are the ones we’re most likely to neglect, but that also have the most impact on our long-term effectiveness.
Stephen Covey first popularized the idea of sorting tasks based on importance and urgency in his best-selling book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, as follows:
1. Important and Urgent—crises, disasters or other items to be dealt with immediately.
2. Important but Not Urgent—things that don’t demand our immediate attention, but that help us achieve long-terms goals, such as planning, budgeting, relationship-building and recreation. Spend most of your time on these.
3. Not important but Urgent—interruptions and distractions that keep you from focusing on long-term goals, such as unimportant calls, emails, meetings and other busy work.
4. Not important and Not Urgent—Junk mail, mindless TV viewing (not to be confused with recreation) and other time-wasters.
Stop going from crisis to crisis (the 3s) and focus on what you really need to do. When you’re prioritizing for success, the 2s have it.

Posted: 7/28/09
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From my own experience this is absolutely true. When I think about it I have been going from crisis to crisis most of my life.

I like the way you expressed this point.

I would also add:

For 1s, do them right now if you can, otherwise schedule a time when you will definately do them set alarms to remind you and stop worrying about them.

When it comes to 3s, unless it is work related, make a habit of questioning people's motives when they insist on you doing these tasks. Even when it comes to work, if your boss is flexible, ask if it is really required that you do these tasks and why.

The 2s are not seen as urgent because up to now you have not really paid them much attention. For example say you own a local service business but have never done any market research. Then you do some market research and triple your monthly income. Now you may consider it urgent to spend some time on market research before beginning of each month or a period corresponding to each sales cycle.

  • By simonm
  • on 7/28/09 5:10 PM EST