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Last Updated on February 3, 2020

How Top Performers Never Let a Second Go to Waste

How Top Performers Never Let a Second Go to Waste

Every person on the planet is allotted the same 1440 minutes each day; it’s how we choose to use them that makes all the difference. Unfortunately, efficient time management can sometimes be a challenge. To help you make the most of the time you’ve been given, check out these 14 simple yet effective time management tips.

1. Tackle the Most Important Tasks First

This is calling Eating That Frog! Start every day by tackling your largest, scariest task first. When you do that, everything else will be simple.

I outline a system for prioritizing tasks called the ABCDE Method. In this method, A tasks always come before B tasks and B tasks before C tasks. D tasks are delegated and E tasks are eliminated entirely. By sticking to this method, you can ensure that you are always tackling the most important things first and using your time as wisely as possible.

2. Make a To-Do List

To-do lists have a way of helping people organize their tasks. They also create a physical embodiment of the tasks’ existence, reminding you that they need to be done and providing you incentive to start checking items off. Be sure to use multiple lists to stay organized. I wrote an article about the 4 types of to-do lists to demonstrate the range of lists that can be useful for achieving all your goals.

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3. Divide and Conquer

If you have a major task to get done, try to divide it up into a bunch of smaller tasks. This collection of smaller tasks will seem much less intimidating than the task seems when viewed as the whole.

4. Get the Momentum Going

Once you’ve divided your large task up into a bunch of smaller tasks, choose the smallest one in the bunch and knock it out. Getting started is often the hardest part of accomplishing something. Once you’ve got the ball rolling by finishing just one, small task, though, pushing forward will be much easier.

5. Start with the Unpleasant

If you’re staring down the barrel of an especially unpleasant task, it’s best to get it over with and get it done. Often times, worrying about your most difficult task will take up more energy than doing it. Avoid this waste of mental energy by getting your most unpleasant task out of the way first.

6. Focus on the Negative

Fear is an excellent motivator, and, if your tasks are important, not completing them is sure to come with some negative consequences. While you don’t want to focus on these consequences so much that you allow them to work you into a worried frenzy, a little bit concern can be great for crushing procrastination.

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7. Come Prepared

When you set about a task, make sure you come fully prepared with everything you need to complete it. Not only will coming prepared keep you from having to trace back and forth getting items, being prepared is a great motivator in and of itself.

8. Take Time to Relax

A little bit of relaxation is crucial for maintaining a positive, motivated mindset. If you work constantly without taking the time to rest and gather your thoughts, you’ll quickly burn out and be unable to efficiently accomplish your tasks no matter how hard you try. My personal recommendation for relaxation time is meditation, but do whatever you find the most refreshing and peaceful.

9. Adopt a Sense of Urgency

It’s not enough to work hard – you need to work fast. Working fast is the best way to make the most of your time and accomplish as much as you can in the time you have available. Find a speed at which the quality of your work is still high and develop the sense of urgency necessary for you to maintain that speed.

10. Reward Yourself

Each time you complete a task (or a significant portion of a task) reward yourself. It doesn’t have to be anything major; step outside and stretch, get a cookie from the cabinet, check your phone, or substitute any other short yet pleasant activity that you might enjoy. So long as your rewards don’t start taking up too much of your time, they can be a powerful way to motivate you to start checking items off your to-do list.

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11. Work Smarter, Not Harder

Before you dive into a task head first, take a step back and analyze the best way to go about it. Often times, a few minutes of advanced preparation will end up saving you hours of inefficient work.

12. Delegate

The best leaders know how to properly delegate tasks. If there is work that you can afford to outsource or delegate to someone else, do it. This way, you can ensure your efforts are always focused on the tasks that are most important for you yourself to handle.

13. Eliminate the Nonessential

Some tasks don’t really belong on your to-do list. If it’s not really important that they are done and you’re pressed for time, strike them out and don’t worry about them. They’ll only distract you from your other, more essential tasks.

14. Lock the Door

Distractions are the fuel of procrastination. Sometimes, the only way to completely defeat procrastination is to lock yourself in a room and avoid all distractions. Put your phone in another room, pull the shades, and get to work until the task is finished.

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Top Performers Make Every Second Count

Time is everyone’s most valuable resource and how you spend it determines how much you can accomplish in life. In order to spend your time most effectively, you must learn the right time management skills for your personality and responsibilities.

The proper amounts of focus, prioritization, preparation, delegation, relaxation, and strategy are essential to maintaining a balanced approach to a productive lifestyle. When it comes down to it, time management tips such as these are among the most valuable life hacks I have ever put to use.

Featured photo credit: Isaac Smith via unsplash.com

More by this author

Brian Tracy

CEO of Brian Tracy International

How Top Performers Never Let a Second Go to Waste

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Last Updated on November 3, 2020

How to Use the Prioritization Matrix When Every Task is #1

How to Use the Prioritization Matrix When Every Task is #1

It takes being productive to get things done correctly and on time. So how do you know which tasks are essential and which can wait? The answer is in the Prioritization Matrix, also known as the Eisenhower Matrix.

The matrix took its name after Dwight David Eisenhower.

Eisenhower was a general in the US army and the 34th President of the United States from 1953 to 1961. As a five-star general and a Supreme Commander in the US Army, he drafted the strategy for an Allied invasion of Europe.[1]

Eisenhower had to make tough decisions every time about which tasks to prioritize out of many he needed to focus on daily. So, he came up with the famous Eisenhower Matrix, or the Prioritization Matrix.

What Is the Prioritization Matrix?

The Prioritization Matrix is a tool for rating your tasks based on urgency. It helps you know the critical activities and those tasks that you should bypass and can be useful in project management, small businesses, or personal tasks.

Eisenhower famously said of the matrix:

“Most tasks that are urgent are not important, and most tasks that are important are not urgent.”

This quote became the maxim for Eisenhower in managing his time.

There are four quadrants in the Prioritization Matrix, which help in comparing choices of what to do first and last, allowing you to prioritize projects and create strategic plan[2].

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Eisenhower Matrix Template

    The quadrants are:

    • Do
    • Schedule
    • Delegate
    • Eliminate

    Do

    Do is the first quadrant in the Prioritization Matrix, and it incorporates important activities. That is, those tasks you need to carry out urgently — crises, deadlines, and issues that need your urgent attention and are highly relevant to your life mission.

    Hw do you know which task falls into this quadrant?

    Start by analyzing your priorities, and then establish if it falls within the ‘do it now’ criteria. If the task is achievable within a day, or within 24 to 48 hours, it’s urgent.

    Another approach you can adopt in prioritizing tasks in this category is to adopt the “eat the frog” principle by Mark Twain. This principle recommends that you do the most urgent activities as soon as you wake up.

    Here’s a practical example.

    Let’s say you need to draft a content strategy and submit a report to your manager. It’s Saturday, and the deadline for submission is Monday. Can we say the activity is urgent? Definitely!

    Schedule

    The second quadrant of the prioritization matrix is Schedule. The Prioritization Matrix classifies tasks in this category as important but not that urgent.

    They are long-term objectives and tasks with no immediate deadline. Those tasks could include meditation, journaling, studying, family time, and exercising.

    You can plan out activities in this quadrant for some other period. For instance, you should exercise for good health, but you can allocate time to do it.

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    Schedule these activities in such a way that they don’t transfer to the “Do” or “Urgent” quadrant. Ensure you have sufficient time to carry them out.

    Delegate

    The third quadrant of the prioritization matrix is Delegate.

    These tasks are not important to you but are quite urgent for others. This is where teamwork comes into play.

    You can technically perform tasks in this category, but it makes sense to delegate them. Delegating tasks will ensure you have more time to pursue activities in your first two quadrants.

    You should also monitor the tasks you have delegated. It will only amount to a sheer waste of time if you don’t have a tracking system for delegated tasks.

    Eliminate

    The last quadrant highlights your productivity killers. They are tasks that are not important to your goals and not urgent. The only way to boost your productivity is to eliminate them.

    Some examples are constantly checking your phone, watching movies, or playing video games.

    They could also be bad habits that you need to identify and delete from your daily and weekly schedule.

    Successful people have learned how to prioritize and stick to what’s important. They have learned to find a better person for a task or eliminate less significant tasks.

    Let’s consider two inspiring personalities that have designed their prioritization system.

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    Warren Buffet developed a two-list prioritization model to determine which task deserves his best attention. The bottom line is bypassing things that are important and useful but not top of the priorities.

    Mark Ford, a business advisor, marketer, self-made millionaire, and author devised his strategy:

    “Start work on the most crucial priority, take a break, work on the second most important task, take a break, then sort out the less important activities and any tasks he received from other individuals by afternoon.” [3]

    How to Use The Prioritization Matrix

    Using the Prioritization Matrix can be tricky if you’re new at it, but by following a few simple steps, you can learn to utilize it in the best way possible.

    1. List and Rank Your Priorities

    Highlight all the tasks you need to carry out in a day. Then, classify them with weighted criteria based on urgency and importance.

    Identify any activity that requires prompt action. I’m referring to a task that if you don’t complete that day, it could produce a grave consequence. For instance, if you don’t submit your content strategy, other content writers cannot work. It means you need to check for high-priority dependencies.

    2. Define the Value

    The next step is to examine the importance and assess which of them impacts your business or organization the most. As a rule of thumb, you can check which tasks possess higher priority over others. For instance, you need to attend to client’s requirements before you take care of any internal work.

    You can also estimate value by examining how the task impacts the people and customers in the organization. In a nutshell, the more impact a task has on people or the organization, the higher the priority.

    3. Take out the Most Challenging Task

    Procrastination is not a symptom of laziness, but avoidance is. The truth is that you will typically avoid tasks you don’t want to do. The former CEO of Goldman Sachs, Lloyd Blankfein, once said he would take out the most dreaded task first thing when he got to the office.

    Brian Tracy called these tasks the frogs you need to eat. That will remove the nagging dread, which mounts pressure on you when you postpone necessary tasks[4]. This is where the Prioritization Matrix can help; eat the “Do” frogs immediately.

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    If you need help overcoming procrastination, check out this article.

    4. Know What’s Important to You

    As long as you are in this cosmos, you will always encounter different choices that may be contradictory to your goals. For instance, a fantastic promotion that requires excessive travel will isolate you from important relationships. If you are not priority-conscious, you may accept it, even though your family is your priority.

    Therefore, it makes sense to identify what is important to you and to prepare yourself not to compromise those important things for immediate pleasure or gain.

    Yogi Berra captioned it this way:

    “If you do not know your destination, you might end up somewhere else.”

    5. Establish Regular “No Work” Time

    YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki established a rule not to check her emails between 6 pm and 9 pm. According to a CNN Business report, she was the first woman to request maternity leave when Google just got started. She prioritizes dinner time with her family despite being the CEO of YouTube[5].

    Is it possible to cut out time for our relationships and interests outside of work?

    Of course, and that’s why you need to set out your “no work” time. This approach will enable you to renew your energy levels for the next task. Also, you will be in the best position to introspect as you are not in your usual work zone.

    6. Know When to Stop

    You can achieve everything on your list sometimes. After you have prioritized your workload and assessed your estimates, remove the remaining tasks from your priority list and focus on your most urgent and important tasks.

    Conclusion

    It’s not enough to be successful at work. Ensure you make out time for your family and an important relationship in your life.

    Getting started and finding time may be tricky, but with some practice using the Prioritization Matrix, you’ll find that you are more productive and better able to divide your time between the things that are important to you.

    More Tips on Prioritizing

    Featured photo credit: William Iven via unsplash.com

    Reference

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