Effective time management

Effective Time Management

October 19, 2022

Time Management is an area that is frequently discussed in my coaching sessions. It can often feel like there is simply too much to do and that all aspects of our lives are conflicting with one another. We end up feeling overloaded and overwhelmed, and it seems like nothing is getting done, or that at the very least what is a priority in our mind is not reflected in what we actually do with our time.

The good news is that there are some proven strategies out there to help us deal with the myriad demands on our time; to help us prioritise effectively and spend time and effort on the right things.

Eisenhower is credited with saying, “The important is seldom urgent, and the urgent seldom important.” From this idea is derived the “Eisenhower Matrix”:

In the red box are CRISES. These things need your attention right now. They are the fires that need putting out, the alligators closest to the canoe. There are significant consequences if these things are not done, and not done soon.

The green box, the most important box, is your area for GROWTH. Here is your planning, preparation, learning, sleep and recreation. Take time to schedule (more on that in a moment!) these things and give yourself a deadline to get them done.

The yellow box is filled with INTERRUPTIONS. Don’t be doing these things by choice! These tasks should be delegated or automated whenever possible.

Finally, the blue box is WASTE. Procrastination and ‘goofing off’. Drop these things entirely, they are serving no purpose but to drain your energy and other resources.

But how can we use this matrix in practice? I recommend two ways:

(1) On the fly, in everyday life: With a little practice, you can visualise the matrix as tasks come up. Pause and think, is this important? Is it urgent? What box does it belong in? Prioritise with the matrix in mind: Sort out the CRISES first and then spend as much time as you can on the green, GROWTH, box. Avoid boxes 3 and 4.

Use a notebook, app or whatever you need to keep track of the tasks and bring them to your…

(2) Planning meeting: Dedicate time in your week, either by yourself or with your significant other or whoever shares your workload, to look at and plan the week ahead, using the matrix as your guide:

Talk about what the GROWTH box first, it is the most important. Schedule these things, they are your priority. Give yourself a target or deadline to hold yourself accountable, e.g. “I will work out at least 3 times / finish this chapter of my studies/book myself the holiday I need /  by the end of this week.”

Next tackle the CRISES – actual or anticipated. Clearing them or deciding whose responsibility they are in advance will give you breathing room, physically and mentally. E.g. “This bill is overdue, I will pay it tomorrow” or, “I’m likely to miss school pick-up on Tuesday. I’ll ring Grandma tonight to ask if she can do it if needed”.

Finally, think about what INTERRUPTIONS you may face. See if they can be delegated or done with minimal involvement on your part. E.g. “Wednesday is going to be extremely busy, I need to make sure my out-of-office message is turned on Tuesday night” or, “I’m anticipating a lot of basic queries about (whatever), let’s put up a FAQ on the website to reduce call volume”.

Got questions about the Eisenhower Matrix, or other time management strategies?  Get in touch with Mike Charlie Coaching!

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