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A Few Things To Do For The New Year

A Few Things To Do For The New Year

Cleaning out your closet. Defragging your hard drive. Updating your resume.

What do all of these have in common? They’re nagging little jobs on most of our “to-do” lists that we keep putting off because they’re tedious and boring. They keep getting pushed to the back of the queue, gathering dust and being neglected until we’re forced to take care of them for one reason or another, at which point we end up stressed, panicky, and resentful.

Fortunately, there’s no time like the present to finally get around to doing these tasks, and having them all over and done with for the New Year and allow yourself to start the next year with a clean slate, with no daunting obligations left to hang over your head. Below are a few suggestions about some of the tasks you might like to tackle, if you have time to do so:

1. Clean out your email

Most of us have a plethora of unread emails lounging around in our in-boxes, as well as old drafts, spam, and various other sundries tucked into different folders. Instead of just vegging out in front of the TV after supper, consider putting on some music and sifting through your folders to clear them out. Doing this for 20 minutes/night for just a few evenings will tidy things up nicely. You may need to know how to use Gmail search to clean up your Email archive.

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Oh, and while you’re at it…

2. Review and update your address book

Do you really need to hold onto the email addresses belonging to people you worked with in 2003? Take a few minutes to sort through your address book and cull those that you haven’t communicated with, along with old addresses that your friends/family don’t use anymore. (See how to use Google Contacts as a Unified Address Book)

3. Clean your computer (inside and out) and tidy up your workstation

While you’re tidying up all those files, consider using this opportunity as a chance to clean up your desk (and your computer itself). If you have a CPU tower, take it apart so you can vacuum out all the dust and pet hair that might have accumulated in there. Toss away any take-out containers or empty energy drink cans around your desk, give everything a solid once-over with some spray cleaner (just not your monitor: clean that thing properly), and be sure to clean your keyboard too—those things get nasty.

4. File and organize papers, bills, statements, and receipts

Keeping these in order can come in handy, especially since tax season is just around the corner. Try to organize them so your receipts and statements are together, with outstanding bills and invoices in another section.

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While you’re at it, consider making a couple of last-minute charitable donations to adjust your tax deductions, if you’re into that sort of thing.

5. Update your personal budget, resume and bio

As you go through your papers, take note of your spending habits over the last year. Have you gone overboard with spending? Been too frugal? Compare your habits to your bank account, and then consider re-adjusting your personal budget to even things out a bit.

On that same note, if you find that you’ve struggled to make ends meet or that you’re not being paid what you’re worth, it might be time to update your resume and look for a new job. If instead you’re perfectly happy with where you are, but you’ve had some major life changes (moved to a new city/country, earned a degree, got married, etc.) then you might want to update your bio on various networking sites.

6. Reduce clutter, and give things away

You would not believe how much stuff can accumulate in cupboards and closets, particularly in the bathroom. Set aside an hour or so to sort through everything under the sink to see just how many unused soaps, creams, razors, and other sundries you’ve collected, and then decide whether you’re actually going to use them or not. If you will, think about displaying them in a basket or keeping them at hand so you’ll use them up. If you’ll never touch the things, give them away to friends who’ll use them, or donate them.

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Speaking of donations…

7. Clean out your closet, and donate your old clothes

A good rule to stick to as far as clothing is concerned is to give away anything you haven’t worn in over 2 years (with the exception of really well-tailored suits or dresses that still fit, and are in great shape. You never know when those will come in handy). For each piece you give away, you can buy yourself something new that fits both your figure and your current fashion sense, but don’t hold on to something that will never fit or come back into style again.

(We have created a list for you so that you can keep track of your new year tasks, Things to do for the new year)

Once you’ve taken care of all of these tasks, all you really need to do is finalize your New Year’s Eve schedule, and make some goals for 2013. If you find that you tend to self-sabotage official resolutions, consider just making some short-term goals that are easy to attain: reaching them will boost your confidence, and might encourage you to pursue some more intense, longer-term goals in turn.

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Featured photo credit:  Attractive young adult couple via Shutterstock

 

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Catherine Winter

Catherine is a wordsmith covering lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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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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