How To Prioritize Your Day

Managing your day to day schedule is imperative if you want to maximize your output. Many professionals feel that 24 hours in a day is not enough to cover every thing they want and need to do. In reality, the number of hours in a day is more than enough if you know how to properly handle it.

The trick to effective time management is to divide your daily responsibilities in terms of two considerations – urgency and importance. Your first step is to list down the things that you do in a typical work day. After completing the list draw a square with four quadrants. This will serve as your responsibility matrix.

Now, label the first quadrant as “important and urgent”, this is the cell in the top right. Label the second quadrant as “important and not urgent”, this is the cell in the top left. Next, label the third quadrant as “not important and not urgent, this is the cell in the bottom left. Lastly, label the fourth quadrant as “not important and urgent, this is the cell in the bottom right.

The task detailed above effectively categorized your day to day tasks into four classes. You can call them as Critical Activities, Important Goals, Distractions, and Interruptions. The direction followed by the labels is from first to fourth quadrant.

Now, fill in the spaces with the appropriate task from the original list that you have. Having a visual representation of your daily tasks is pivotal in managing your time. You want to have as much entries in the second quadrant as possible. Successfully doing so is a good indicator that you are slowly making progress in effective time management because you tend to have enough time to finish important matters instead of rushing through them.

You want to minimize entries in the third and fourth quadrant. These are matters that contribute little or nothing to your productivity. Office gossip through instant messaging and email is a perfect example of this. A friendly message from a colleague may require an urgent response but if it has nothing to do with your output, then politely decline from further interaction. You can always take this matter up during your break time.

This technique is attributed to former president Dwight Eisenhower. One of his quotes that remain true today is, “What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important”. Plan your day effectively by using the matrix and you’ll be surprised with how much extra time you actually have at your disposal.