When we talk about time-management we often forget that what we are actually doing is managing ourselves, and how much time we spend doing various tasks. Time is fixed, and is the same for all of us; there are 60 seconds in a minute, 60 minutes in an hour, and 24 hours in a day for everyone, and no way to cheat this. Successful people who seem to get more done in a day don’t have access to a secret stash of extra minutes or hours, they have simply learned how to use what they have effectively.
Without increasing your working hours, you need to assess your task list each day, deciding which tasks are worth your time and consideration. Echoing the words of Henry David Thoreau, who wrote, “It is not enough to be busy. The question is, ‘What are we busy about?’“
John Maxwell uses a formula to gauge the importance of each task, before rearranging his to-do list according to calculated priority.
Rate each task according to priority
- Critical = 5 points
- Necessary = 4 points
- Important = 3 points
- Helpful = 2 points
- Marginal = 1 point
Rate the task’s deadline
- Today = 5 points
- Tomorrow = 4 points
- This week = 3 points
- This month = 2 points
- Next month = 1 point
Multiply the priority by the deadline: 3 (important) x 3 (this week) = 9
The deadlines can be adjusted according to the schedule and timing you work on, for example, you could work with this month, next month, this quarter, next quarter and end of year instead.
Your to-do list can now be rearranged from highest to lowest score, allowing you to focus first on what is critical and due imminently, and if there is enough time left at the end of your day, you can even manage a few tasks of low importance. You need not worry about not getting all your less important tasks done in a day because they aren’t being eliminated or forgotten about; as their deadline approaches their importance will increase and move up on your list.
It is a relatively simple exercise, but the impact can be significant as you discover what it means to manage yourself and not your time.
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