Tag Archives: important

Quick Links – Time Management

Below are a list of Quick Links to posts that will help you with TIME MANAGEMENT:

(Click on the title & it will take you to the post)

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Time Management – Important vs. Urgent Tasks

Good time management results in the effective and efficient use of one’s time, and reminds us that: many tasks are important, but not all are urgent.  

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Time pressure is a prevalent source of stress both at college and in the world of work – it is the result of having too much to do, and not enough time to do it all in. The Eisenhower Principle is a prioritization method which allows for the categorization of tasks in a straightforward, no gray areas manner. The principle helps you consider your priorities and then decide which tasks are essential (or important) and which are distractions.

However, before we can continue, we first need to understand the difference between what it means for something to be “important” and for it to be “urgent” – the authors at Mind Tools have defined it well:

Important activities have an outcome that leads us to achieving our goals, whether they are professional or personal. 

Urgent activities demand immediate attention, and are usually associated with achieving someone else’s goals. They are often the ones we concentrate on and they demand attention because the consequences of not dealing with them are immediate.”

According to the Eisenhower Principle tasks fall into one of four categories:

  • Important and Urgent
  • Not Urgent but Important
  • Not Important but Urgent
  • Not Important and Not Urgent

Each category is then assigned a recommended plan of action:

  • Important and Urgent – Do it now.
  • Not Urgent but Important – Decide on when to schedule it in.
  • Not Important but Urgent – Delegate it to someone else.
  • Not Important and Not Urgent – Delete it.

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How to Apply the Eisenhower Principle

The application of the Eisenhower Principle is quite simple provided you are able to make a decision regarding the categorization of tasks, and then stick to it.

STEP 1: Select a task and decide whether or not it is urgent. This will help you in deciding whether immediate action is necessary or not.

STEP 2: Using the same task as for Step 1, decide whether it is important or not. This will help you decide whether it is something you need to do yourself, or whether it can be delegated to someone else.

Priority 1 Tasks

priority-1These are tasks that are both urgent and important. These tasks need to be seen to immediately and by you personally. They will be assigned the highest priority on your to-do list.

However, if you are spending the majority of your time on these types of tasks, you are being reactive, rather than planning your work and actions ahead of time.

Priority 2 Tasks

priority-2

These are tasks that are important but not urgent; they need to be attended to personally but not immediately, so you need to schedule in time to address them. It is helpful to assign these types of tasks a beginning and end date – this will also help you with assigning them a priority rating on your to-do list.

Ideally, most of your tasks should fall under Priority 2 tasks.

Priority 3 Tasks

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These tasks are urgent but not important, so they require immediate attention but not necessarily from you. These tasks are usually someone else’s priority, not your own. If at all possible, delegate these tasks to someone else, or decide whether they are in fact a Priority 4 task.

Priority 4 Tasks

priority-4

These are tasks that are neither important nor urgent, and so are mostly a waste of your time. These tasks should be dropped as they add no value to your productivity.

How Does Eisenhower Fit Into This?

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The story goes, that in a speech in 1954, former U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower quoted the president of a U.S. university when he said:

“I have two kinds of problems: the urgent and the important. The urgent are not important, and the important are never urgent.”

This is apparently how President Eisenhower arranged and managed his workload and priorities…thus, becoming the Eisenhower Principle.


 References:

Eisenhower’s Urgent / Important Principle: Using Time Effectively, Not Just Efficiently. (n.d.). Retrieved from: https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newHTE_91.htm. [Accessed on: 21 February 2017].

The Eisenhower Method. (n.d.). Retrieved from: https://thousandinsights.wordpress.com/articles/on-productivity/the-eisenhower-method/. [Accessed on: 21 February 2017].

 

Time Management – Effective Use of To-Do Lists

Do you feel overwhelmed by the amount of work you have to do? Do you sometimes totally forget to do something important, or even miss a deadline altogether?

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These are all symptoms of poor time management which could be rectified with the implementation of a prioritized “to-do list”. By creating a “to-do list” you are ensuring that all your tasks are noted in one place. By then prioritizing those tasks (from most to least important) you are able to plan the order in which you will address them, thus ensuring that those with the highest priority get your immediate attention.

To-do lists are particularly helpful when you are dealing with multiple deadlines and are feeling overloaded as a result. By using them effectively, you’ll find that you are better organised and you’ll experience less stress, knowing that you haven’t forgotten anything. In addition to this, if you prioritize properly, you’ll be focusing your time and energy on high value tasks, making you more productive.

Creating a To-Do List
Step 1:
  • Write down all the tasks you need to complete for the upcoming week or month.
  • If there are large tasks break them down into smaller tasks / steps .
  • Ideally a task or step should not take more than a few hours each to complete.
  • It may be helpful to compile a to-do list per subject you are registered for, or one for personal tasks and one for college tasks. Try different approaches and see which best suits you.
Step 2:
  • Read through your list and allocate each task a priority rating i.e. “A” for very important or urgent tasks, “B” for moderate / ordinary tasks and “C” for unimportant, low importance tasks.
  • If you find that the majority of your tasks have been allocated an “A” for high priority, re-do your list, with a realistic and critical eye looking for what really is high priority and what can be safely demoted to moderate and low priority.
Step 3:
  • Start making use of your list by working through the tasks in order of priority.
  • Once you’ve completed a task in full, tick it off or draw a line through it.
  • Once a day (either in the morning or the night before) spend 10 minutes revising your list  – adding anything new that has come up, re-assigning priorities should things have changed etc.

to-do-list

Prioritized to-do lists are exceptionally helpful with:

  • Reminding you what tasks need to be done for a particular time period.
  • Organizing what order your list of tasks should be done in, so that you don’t waste time on low value tasks.
  • Maintaining stress levels by moving focus away from unimportant, trivial tasks.

Reference:

To-Do Lists: The Key to Efficiency. (n.d.). Retrieved from: https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newHTE_05.htm. [Accessed on: 16 February 2017].