Time is precious, let’s not waste it. I often have two main pressures when it comes to time: feeling like I have too much of it on my hands and feeling like I should be busier, and then saying “yes” one to many clients, school, family or community requests, and then having a strong desire to be less busy, and less over-committed (as an aside, I’ve decided that there’s very little room between these two states, but this may just be my own personal challenge!).
When I get into the “not enough time in the day” situation, one of the most useful things I do is:
- Write a list, and then
- Chat to Eisenhower …
Dwight D. Eisenhower was the 34th President of the United States from 1953 until 1961. Before becoming President, he served as a general in the United States Army and as the Allied Forces Supreme Commander during World War II. He also later became NATO’s first supreme commander.
Dwight had to make tough decisions continuously about which of the many tasks he should focus on each day. This finally led him to invent the world-famous Eisenhower principle, which today helps us prioritize by urgency and importance.
If you want to help reduce assignment delivery stress, I suggest you use the Eisenhower matrix and assign your ‘to do’ list to each quadrant. A few tips on how to use it:
- Include both personal and work commitments to better manage your work-life balance.
- Keep the list fresh and review it regularly.
- If the list gets too long, then lift it up a level – focus on the big rocks.
- Don’t create a list just because you can (though it can be satisfying adding something that you know you can soon cross off). Have a list that is meaningful and impactful, and only put in items that, if they don’t get done on time, will impact either you, someone important to you, or a client that is expecting you to deliver.
- Don’t procrastinate.
- Don’t let others define your priorities.
- Plan in the morning – I do this over my morning coffee with my diary in front of me. Then I deliver during the day.
- If you do not get the work done, then figure out how and when it can be done and replan it back into your diary. Don’t just let it slip – it will only clog up the space for something new.
A good time manager leaves fewer things unplanned and tries to manage most of their work in the top left quadrant (important and not urgent), reducing stress by scheduling what would otherwise become urgent and important to-dos to a reasonable date in the near future whenever a new important task comes in.