If you trying to improve your own efficiency and become a little more organised – then a really good thing to focus on is how well you are prioritising everything that you need to do. Although it sounds an obvious thing to do, strangely it is something which we can think we are doing – but often what we are actually doing is dealing with things as they pop to the top of the list. In fact we are fire fighting.
Even if the fire metaphorically speaking, is quite small this week, living your life dealing with stuff as it occurs can mean that , when something urgent suddenly pops out of the blue you have a massive blaze on your hands.
So here are some tips to help you avoid this trap. Sit down and spend half an hour doing the following exercise.
Write out all the items which take your time and put them into the four following categories.
Urgent and Important
The activities in this quadrant can be described as needing urgent attention e.g. problems, crises, deadline driven tasks. Examples on the domestic front could include paying an overdue bill, collecting an ill child from school, or mending that leaking tap which has now started causing a damp patch.
Not Urgent and Important
Prevention, relationship building, personal development, planning, recreation, keeping fit are all pretty explanatory. However these are often the things which we consider secondary in our lives and often we put on the back-burner.
Urgent and Not Important
Interruptions, some telephone calls, some emails, some unnecessary tasks, pressing matters and popular activities. Urgent matters are usually visible, require an action and are often instigated by others, they can be fun to do. It could be taking that phone call when you were just about to leave to do the shopping, or chatting on the phone to someone you are likely to be seeing later.
Not Urgent and Not Important
Trivia, unnecessary repetition of unimportant tasks, some phone calls, some email, time-wasting activities and pleasant activities. This could include watching TV without really having an interest in what you are watching.
Take a look at your own life and see which category has the longest list. For most of us, if we are not careful it is the Urgent and Important category.
All sorts of things can creep into this list without us realising. Even the shopping and washing can become deadline driven if there is no food in the house or nothing to wear.
When the urgent and important list is long – that is when we are likely to be at our most stressed, disorganised and probably least effective. It then means we do not make time to do the things which will affect our long-term health and relationships which sit in the Not Urgent but Important Quadrant.
When you have completed your lists, under the four above named categories you will suddenly start to notice your time demons, the areas you need to plan, and where you are frittering time and could be more organised. This will really help you to manage your time more effectively.
And getting our priorities right on a day-to-day basis is not only good for us now – but long-term as well.
Taking an objective look at how you prioritise things – and the subsequent time they eat up can be a really good way at taking control of your time and ultimately your life.
As the quote on the header of Help For Busy Mums states. “Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least”