Your day has begun. How should you choose where to begin with your To Do List?
The simplest way to set priorities is to use the Most Important Tasks (MITs) method from Zen Habits.
Next simplest: The 1 – 3 – 5 Rule from the Muse: 1 big thing, 3 medium, 5 little.
Julie Morgenstern’s Return on Investment:
- Estimated time
- Steps to results
- A-important tasks that contribute to goals MUST do
- B-moderately important SHOULD do
- C-least important COULD do
Stephen R Covey’s time management matrix (Also Known as the Eisenhower Box):
- Quadrant I (important and urgent): appointments, deadlines, repeating tasks, recurring and routine tasks – Do It!
- Quadrant II (important but not urgent): goals and planning – Plan It!
- Quadrant III (urgent but not important): distractions, interruptions – Decrease It!
- Quadrant IV (not urgent and not important): other time wasters like social media – Delete It!
Do It Now
Ask which tasks…
- must be done right now?
- will fit the amount of time available now?
- will fit the amount of energy available now?
- contribute to goals?
- need more planning?
Decrease or Delete It
- can be diminished, delegated, or dropped?
Learn more about how to use time productively with the free Time Management 101 tutorial.
When nothing is urgent, look for The Sweet Spot. Tasks that have high impact and require low effort provide a quick win. Plan for tasks that have high impact but require high effort by breaking them down into smaller steps.
- A Dynamic Card Sort for identifying priorities.
- the Matrix Time Chart (pdf) based on Stephen R Covey’s Time Management Matrix, to track activities within the four quadrants.
- The Matrix of Self-Management at Facile Things.
Remember the Pareto Principle, or 80/20 rule.
Jim Temme in the book “Productivity Power” says that we spend about 80 percent of our day working on job description activities (what I think of as repeating tasks) that yield only 20 percent results. The challenge is to use the remaining 20 percent of discretionary time on goal-related activities that yield 80 percent results. See more about the Pareto Principle at Measuring Productivity.
Use time chunking, time boxing, or time blocking – see mattgallant.tv and entrepreneur. David Seah’s tools are all about keeping on task too. Using a timer increases awareness of time passing by and focuses attention on high priority tasks.
Always ask: “What is the best use of my time right now?” -Alan Lakein