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Essential tips for effective time management

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Putting together a to-do list is a highly effective way to get things done and ensure that all your important tasks are managed properly. However, when under a lot of time pressure, how do you decide on which tasks to prioritise?

“What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important.”

Dwight Eisenhower

Eisenhower’s Urgent/Important Principle

Eisenhower’s Urgent/Important Principle helps you identify the tasks that you should prioritise based on urgency and importance. This is effective in helping you use your time more efficiently.

An important task is one which would lead towards accomplishing your or the company’s main goals.

An urgent task demands immediate action and is usually associated with accomplishing goals for other people.

The consequences of putting off an urgent task is often immediate – so, we tend to prioritise urgent tasks. To avoid our natural tendency to focus on unimportant but urgent tasks, we need to identify which is which in order to allocate time for each.

List down all your tasks and activities and categorise each into one of the following:

  • Important and urgent
  • Important but not urgent
  • Not important but urgent
  • Not important and not urgent

DO FIRST – Urgent and important

Urgent and important tasks are those that lead you towards your main goal and need to be done within a given deadline that if not dealt with immediately, could lead to strong consequences. Examples of these are completing a client’s project, submitting an article, or a health emergency.

SCHEDULE – Not urgent, but important

Important tasks that have no clear deadlines are usually associated to a main goal. This can be easily put off for long periods of time if not properly organized into a set schedule. Some examples of these are exercise, strategic planning, updating your portfolio, networking.

DELEGATE – Urgent, but not important

Tasks that are urgent but not necessarily important can be described as “busy work” which can be delegated to others. Examples of tasks you can delegate are having your groceries delivered to you instead of driving to the grocery store to save time.

If you can’t delegate a task to others, be clear on how much time you can spend on it and get it done within that set time – this is to avoid one unimportant task from taking over your day.

ELIMINATE – Not urgent and not important

These do not require immediate attention or are activities that others want you to do but does not contribute to your overall progress. If you cannot eliminate the task from your to-do list, you can attend to it last after you have completed all the important and urgent tasks.

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