There is a critical productivity tool that those who focus on results are keenly aware of.
It’s Dwight Eisenhower’s Time Management Matrix of Urgent vs. Important. It was poplularized by Stephen R. Covey in his iconic book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
As the name suggests, it was Eisenhower’s tool for prioritizing that which demanded his time (intrusions) vs. that which deserved his time (priorities).
The essential focus is that we spend time in one of 4 ways and that Urgent and Important are mutually exclusive.
Urgent is reactionary. Important is proactive.
Urgent tasks require handling. Important tasks are necessary to create the results or outcomes you want.
Here’s The Time Management Matrix as exhibited by Stephen Covey.
A common productivity mistake is that we are not focusing our energies on Important and Not Urgent (Quadrant II). Those tasks that can truly move the needle on our high-impact goals.
The problem is that when the important is neglected it ends up becoming Important and Urgent (Quadrant 1). The result is a blazing inferno of issues that consume us and require us to put out the fire.
If we continuously operate this way, letting important issues become urgent, it becomes a compounding problem that knocks us down, steals our energy and our spirit and has us always struggling to get back up.
It’s not sustainable. And worse, it’s life-sucking.
I continue to hone this process for myself.
When I organize my weekly calendar:
I focus on first things first, Important and Urgent…those necessary deadlines and problems that must be dealt with.
Next I make certain that there’s time designated for Important and Not Urgent…my high-impact, high-priority, projects/tasks. These are the critical initiatives that align with my values and fuel my vision, goals and ability to see and seize opportunities.
Next, Urgent and Not Important gets limited time, is efficiently managed or gets delegated or delayed.
Finally, Not Urgent and Not Important is eliminated. These are activities that eat our time, are wasteful and lead nowhere.
Here’s the matrix I’ve adopted:
There’s no doubt about it that this is a work in progress for me. What seems simple is at times extraordinarily difficult, depending on what’s on my plate.
However, when I follow this approach, it gives me a sense of accomplishment and ease without too many surprises cropping up. And most importantly, I feel in control knowing the time in my life was well spent.
My invitation to you is that whether or not you choose to adopt the Eisenhower philosophy or you use some other productivity tool that works for you, you organize what’s deserving of your time.
I know that for me thinking of it as a life management tool really resonated with me…is this activity worth my life’s energy?
Reflect on what’s most important that deserves your attention. Is it supporting not only important goals but a vision for your life that you desire?
Quote of the Week
The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule,