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If You’re Busy But Still Find Your Hard Work Doesn’t Pay Off, You Probably Lack This Important Skill

If You’re Busy But Still Find Your Hard Work Doesn’t Pay Off, You Probably Lack This Important Skill

Former United States President Dwight Eisenhower was responsible for putting together one of the most important yet fundamentally simple to understand concepts in time management. Eisenhower’s Urgent/Important Principle is a tool to help decipher what tasks need to be addressed more immediately than others. Anyone who uses the principle will be better able to organize and orchestrate their daily tasks. This skill is especially imperative for busy people who find themselves working too hard and still not getting everything done.

Eisenhower’s Urgent/Important Principle places tasks into four categories:

  • Important and Urgent
  • Important but Not Urgent
  • Not Important but Urgent
  • Not Important and Not Urgent

These four categories are used to label and organize which tasks need to be addressed first and which ones can be approached last. By asserting something’s importance and its urgency, we are better able to identify what comes first:

covey-time-management-grid
    Image retrieved from SAE Alumni Association

    What these quadrants reveal is that identifying which tasks are either important or urgent boils down to time management and what makes us most efficient. For example, President Obama’s former campaign manager said in an article by WebMD that Obama valued his time to exercise and that it helped fuel him for the rest of his day. According to Obama, “The rest of my time will be more productive if you give me my workout time.” The article goes on in detail about his routine and how he values its importance.

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    James Clear, a behavioral psychology writer, noted in a blog post that “too often, we use productivity, time management, and optimization as an excuse to avoid the really difficult question: ‘Do I actually need to be doing this?’ It is much easier to remain busy and tell yourself that you just need to be a little more efficient or to ‘work a little later tonight’ than to endure the pain of eliminating a task that you are comfortable with doing, but that isn’t the highest and best use of your time.”

    Let’s take a deeper look at each quadrant, what it means, and how we should approach all of our tasks with either urgency or importance (or both).

    Urgent And Important

    For Urgent/Important tasks, they can arise unexpectedly or may have been left for the last minute. These tasks need to be managed ahead of time. Make plans to address these tasks so that they do not become stressful activities when it comes close to deadlines. It’s also a good idea to leave some wiggle room in your daily schedule just in case unexpected tasks come about.

    Assess your deadlines. Are you moving at an appropriate pace to meet that deadline?

    Emergencies happen. Whether they are unexpected meetings or sickness or injuries, they can’t be put off until later.

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    This will force you to reconsider your task list and how much time you have to apply to each quadrant.

    Important But Not Urgent

    Not Urgent/Important tasks are integral to personal growth, building relationships, and accomplishing long-term professional goals. If these tasks are given the proper amount of time, they will not become urgent. This will prevent unexpected and last-minute tasks from unexpectedly cluttering up your time later on, keeping stress and frustration at bay. You’ll be able to complete work efficiently and effectively.

    Exercise is an example of this. Personal growth through exercise is not an overnight progress. Training for a run or any other sort of competition doesn’t begin just days before. Plan your goals ahead of time, but leave room for urgent, unexpected tasks.

    Maintaining your relationships is also important. Keep up with friends and family and partners, but be mindful of how much time you’re alotting here. There is such a thing as putting too much time into relationships. Your goals are important, too. If you keep putting them off, they’ll soon become urgent and you’ll become stressed. This may affect your relationships in the long run.

    Urgent But Not Important

    Urgent/Not Important tasks are cumbersome and get in the way of your goals. Responding to phone calls or emails that are not pertinent to your goals or attending meetings with people who don’t bring any value to completing your activities can be wasted time. Avoid these if possible and delegate the activities if you can. Something to keep in mind: you’re saying yes to the person, but no to the task.

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    If someone or something requires that you do things for them frequently, then it might be best to arrange time for them in one larger block of time. This will allow you to focus your energy and time on multiple things.

    Respond to time-sensitive correspondence as needed. Don’t wait until after a deadline to inform someone when that deadline is:

    You: “Hey, the class will be starting at noon today.”

    Colleague: “Really? Because it’s already 2 P.M.!”

    Not Urgent And Not Important

    Not Urgent/Not Important tasks should also be avoided. Spending time on Facebook or Twitter, watching TV, and shopping (when it’s not important to completing your tasks to have the things you’re shopping for) can significantly drain your time. Limit these tasks as much as possible. It’s not always going to be easy saying no to these mostly leisure activities, but it is important to remain mindful of how much of that time you’re using here.

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    Yes, everyone is talking about the new show on Netflix. They watched it this past weekend and are already posting memes and gifs on Facebook. This doesn’t mean you have to do the same.

    Complete tasks first and then assess if you have time to participate in leisure. Otherwise, you’re procrastinating, and that affects all the other quadrants.

    In Conclusion

    Eisenhower’s Principles can be vital in developing skills to effectively and consistently complete tasks, delegate properly, and work efficiently. Take time to look over your tasks to determine which quadrant they belong.

    • Is there a deadline? If yes, then it is important.
    • Is the deadline soon? If yes, then it is urgent.
    • Is the task necessary to completing the other tasks? If yes, then it is important.
    • Can I delegate the task to someone else? If yes, then it is not important.
    • What does it have to do with your personal growth?
    • What does it have to do with your professional growth?

    Ask yourself these questions when you need to determine a task’s importance and urgency. Make a quadrant table of your own somewhere to help you visualize all your tasks. This is an excellent exercise for time management, and it could be the foundation of healthy work habits that stick around for a long time.

    Featured photo credit: Jazmine Quaynor via stocksnap.io

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    Kyle Hiller

    Author, Writer

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    Last Updated on November 16, 2020

    10 Good Habits to Have in Life to Be More Successful

    10 Good Habits to Have in Life to Be More Successful

    Habits are behaviors and patterns that you showcase by default. Many good habits to have will enable you to carry out crucial activities like taking a shower, brushing your teeth, and getting ready for work. 

    Interestingly, you follow this routine every day without thinking twice. Your unconscious daily habits create room for your brain to perform more advanced activities like problem-solving and choosing what book to read.

    Everyone has habits, and several of those habits are activated every day. I would classify them into three groups:

    • Habits that you hardly notice as they have become a major part of your life, such as brushing teeth or getting dressed.
    • Good habits to have to be more successful, like eating healthy, exercising, and reading books.
    • Habits that are harmful, like procrastinating, smoking, or overeating.

    Good habits are fundamental to becoming successful in life. Yet, as significant as habits are, some lack the knowledge of their capabilities.

    While much of the emphasis falls on bad habits to break, it’s just as important to focus on good habits to have and cultivate in your daily routine.

    Here, we’ll talk about 10 good habits to have to be more successful in life.

    1. Begin Your Day with Meditation

    I recommend mindful meditation early in the morning. This practice helps you to place yourself in the present moment. Consequently, it enables you to be mindful of challenging situations during the day.

    Different stressors may trigger as you go through the day; meditation helps you to remain calm before taking on the challenges.

    Personally, it helps me to devise strategies and think about ideas. Meditation is a good habit to have if you want to be connected to what’s significant in your life.

    2. Be Grateful for What You Have

    It’s not uncommon to waste time thinking of what’s not enough. You become immersed in those daunting challenges. However, challenges justify the presence of hope. The only strategy you have to stop focusing on your problems is to focus on what you have.

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    Gratitude is a time-tested pathway to success, health, and happiness. It redirects your focus to what you have from what you lack. Try writing a list of things you’re grateful for each day in a gratitude journal, or make it a habit to say one thing you’re grateful for when you sit down to dinner with your family.

    3. Smile

    Can you pause and smile before you continue reading this?

    Now, here is what just happened based on research conducted by the Association for Psychological Science; you set a pace for living a happier life when you smile. A genuine smile, or what’s called a Duchenne smile, is a good habit to have if you want to find spiritual, emotional, and mental peace of mind.[1]

    Smiling induces the release of molecules that function towards fighting stress. The physiological state of your body determines the state of your mind. When you slouch or frown, your mind takes cues relating to unhappiness and depression. However, once you adjust yourself by putting on a smile, you begin to feel a new level of excitement and vibrancy.

    4. Start Your Day With a Healthy Breakfast

    Starting your day with a healthy breakfast is a good habit to have and forms a crucial part of your life. Nevertheless, about 31 million Americans skip their breakfast each day.[2]

    If you are fed up hearing that breakfast is a crucial component of your day, you are only fighting the truth. If you want to become more successful, you need to “break your fast” with healthy foods every morning.

    This habit is not difficult to form if you usually rush out the door every single morning. You can wake up earlier to fix yourself a meal so you don’t break down during the day.

    Get inspired by these 20 Healthy Breakfast Choices That Will Save You Time.

    5. Exercise Daily

    One of the good habits to have is to exercise your body and muscles on a daily basis. You don’t have to run a marathon or lift tons of weights. You only need to engage in activities that oxygenate your blood and inject endorphins in your body, trying to squeeze in at least 15 minutes every day.

    Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Twitter, classified exercise as a good habit to maximize his already jam-packed schedule.[3] He said:

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    “I wake up by 5, meditate for 30 minutes, seven-minute workout times three, make coffee, and check-in.”

    He said on Product Hunt that he follows this routine every day as it gives him a steady-state that empowers him to be more productive.

    6. Manage Your Time

    Another good habit is the act of managing your time effectively. This goes a long way toward impacting your achievement.

    Time management is what separates the successful from the rest of the world as we all possess the same amount of time. How you leverage time determines your potential to succeed in life[4].

    Good habits to have: Time management tips

      So how do you manage your time effectively?

      Here’s Jack Dorsey’s recommendation in one of the Techonomy events:

      “I accomplish effective time management by theming my days and practicing self-discipline. These themes help me handle distractions and interactions. If a request or task does not align with the theme for that day, I don’t do it. This sets a cadence for everyone in the company to deliver and evaluate their progress”.

      And this is Dorsey’s weekly theme layout:[5]

      • Monday – Management
      • Tuesday – Product
      • Wednesday – Marketing and growth
      • Thursdays – Developers and partnerships
      • Fridays – Culture and recruiting
      • Saturdays – Taking off
      • Sundays – Reflection, feedback, strategy, and preparing for Monday

      No wonder he was able to run two companies when others were struggling with one job.

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      7. Set Daily Goals With Intentions

      Everyone has goals, whether they relate to business or personal life. The truth is, we’re all tending towards a particular direction. Nevertheless, while long-term goals can offer you direction, it’s your daily goals that help you develop short-term goals that are essential for your success.

      Long-term goals may not give you the motivation you need to keep on, but when you implement your short-term milestones daily, you become fired up, and you can overcome the challenges that come with taking on bigger tasks.

      Here’s the main truth: Successful people don’t set goals without establishing their intentions. According to Jennifer Cohen of Forbes,[6]

      “What helps you to achieve your desired expectation is ensuring intentions accompany your daily goals.”

      8. Seek Inspiration

      It is usually difficult to be inspired for a considerable length of time. Sometimes, you become discouraged and feel like giving up on your goals when things are not working out as intended.

      A practical approach to stay on top of the situation is to inspire yourself each day. When you wake up in the morning (after meditation), watch some motivational videos, and let the story of great leaders inspire you.

      Establish what Anthony Robbins called the “hour of power.” Determine how many minutes you spend, but make it count. Inspiration is the fuel for achievement because when you can conceive it in your mind, you can accomplish it.

      Michal Solowow, an investor and the founder of Mitex, puts it this way[7]:

      “The problems I encounter in everyday life motivate me to find solutions. This is a self-propelling mechanism. Becoming a billionaire was never a motivating factor.”

      9. Save Steadily, Invest With All Prudence

      I can’t exhaust the good habits to have without talking about saving and investing. Most times, you overlook the significance of saving for the future when you are living in your present moment. According to CNBC, a $1000 emergency will propel several Americans into debt.[8]

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      However, it is not enough to save, and you must invest your funds and be wise with them. If you pay attention to this now, you will set yourself up for a life of success in the future. Ensure you save at least six months in your emergency account so you can be prepared for any future emergency.

      If you’re looking for a simple way to save money, check out the following video:

      10. Budget and Track Your Spending

      Benjamin Franklin warned of taking the precaution of little expenses. He said:

      “A small leak sinks a great ship.”

      It is easy to discard little expenses, but the truth is they always add up. This happens when you fail to budget.

      Budgeting is a good habit to have, and it can impact your financial life significantly. The money you spend on extravagant lifestyles can be saved and invested in your future instead.

      The Bottom Line

      Endeavor to start developing good habits to have to become more successful as you journey through life. The quicker you cultivate them, the faster you will achieve your goals.

      More About Cultivating Good Habits

      Featured photo credit: Andrijana Bozic via unsplash.com

      Reference

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