If you think there are just not enough hours in the day to do everything you need to do, if it often seems as if you are chasing your tail, if you are underperforming, or stressed out, and don’t know what to do about it, this could be just what you need.
To this day I am always shocked when I discover most of the clients I coach on time management have no organisational systems in place whatsoever. My clients are usually super busy entrepreneurs, self starters, business people trying to juggle career and home life… but they have no plan! And when you have no plan, anything can happen.
In business and in life, you can’t leave things to chance. The Eisenhower Matrix is a time management tool I didn’t make up, but it is in my opinion one of the most effective and useful tools ever. Steven Covey, Owen Fitzpatrick and many other highly acclaimed personal development authors have featured it in their books. Books you may have read. But have you been using it? If you are reading this post, my guess is no.
Well, let me break it down for you!
Consider for a moment all the things you do on a daily basis. Work tasks, home chores, meals, workouts, family time, “me” time, time with friends, time surfing the net…
They all fall within one of the following categories:
(crisis management tasks-have a date/time limit)
i.e.: doctor appointment – Monday @ 10am
work meeting – Tuesday @ 2pm
report delivery – Friday @ 1pm
client appointments –
(reflect your values-things that are important to you just because)
i.e.: work out
take little Jenny to play in the park
walk by the sea with mum
|URGENT&NON-IMPORTANT(things that should be done, but not immediately)
i.e.: clean the house
tidy work desk
|NON-URGENT&NON-IMPORTANT(time wasters-certain phone calls, certain conversations,tv,internet…)
A lot of people write lists but they don’t know how to use them to their advantage, so the things on them may or may not get done. Instead, make a list of all the things you have to get done today.
Now, sieve them through the matrix. The first time you do it, it may be a little tricky to identify the right spot, but as you do this more and more, you’ll find it easier and easier. If you want certain things done urgently, you can assign a date/time limit to them, so they become Urgent&Important. For example, if your work desk is really untidy, to the point that you waste hours every day just looking for things, then it makes sense to prioritise tidying it up so that everything else will become easier. You have to organise things in a way that you’ll be able to manage them better from now on. You don’t wait till you absolutely stink to take a shower, do you? You take a shower every day. It’s called “upkeep”.
Once you’ve sieved your tasks through the matrix consider this:
YOU DO IT!
YOU DO IT!
YOU PUT IT OFF OR DELEGATE IT!
YOU DELETE IT, GET RID OF IT!
Now, all you have to do is transfer your prioritised tasks for today onto a schedule that suits the way you represent time, your personality, your lifestyle… a schedule that works for you! I see too many people with A5 or A4 diaries or notebooks they rarely or never use; people who tell me they use their phones, outlook, or just their heads to keep track. Ha! I say. We process over 60,000 thoughts a day; random thoughts on all sorts of things. And you are telling me you rely on your brain to remember all the things you need to remember? Even Einstein wrote things down!
Myself and most of my clients work really well with a simple excel sheet like this where you can track your week (see Monday’s Example):
|11am-1pm||Workout and lunch|
|5-6:30pm…||Review tomorrow’s schedule/walk in the park|
However, you can experiment with different types of schedules until you find one that suits you best. So what you do is you take your Urgent&Important things first, and slot them onto your schedule (use a colour pen that denotes urgency). Then, take the Non-urgent&Important things, and transfer them onto your schedule with a different colour pen. Then, transfer the Urgent&Non-important things (things that have to get done, but not necessarily today or now, or by you).
If you think that a task is going to take you an hour, when transferring it onto your schedule assign it an hour and twenty minutes or so. Always add 10—20minutes “buffer” time. Why? Because stuff happens; traffic, a phone call, a knock on the door…
By the time you’ve filled out your weekly schedule, what you are going to realise is that you have more time in your hands than you thought you had! Then, and only then, you can consider time wasters…
Make sure most of your time is spent on the top two quadrants of the matrix: I guarantee you’ll start to feel happier about your life and more in control of things
I suggest you display your schedule somewhere you can see it and refer to it all the time, and possibly make a few copies to bring with you when you leave the house/office. As you get through your day/week, I recommend you tick off things as you get them done and notice the sense of accomplishment and satisfaction it brings.
Setting up a few minutes every Saturday or Sunday to devise your plan for the week will free up tons of time and mental space that you can use to be more efficient and effective in your business and your life. As well as doing this, I suggest you keep a monthly calendar (a wall calendar with boxes you can write on is great) where you can also keep an overview of the four weeks ahead, so as well as keeping track of the small picture, you are also aware of the bigger picture. And if you really want to make some big things happen this year, then a yearly wall planner can make a huge difference too!