How to prioritize your work when everything is #1
Can you recognize the scenario, where you have had a few days or a few weeks away from the e-mail inbox? Now you are back at your desk and everybody from the organization wants your help and their task are definitely the most important task at the moment. So how do you know where to start and in what order?
Step 1: Define your goal
First of all, it is important to remember that there is a difference between being busy, being productive and being efficient.
• Busyness is making a lot of things
• Productivity is making things right
• Efficiency is doing the right things
The best way to take control of your tasks, is by being efficient and thereby do the right things first. In order for you to know what is the right things to do first you should identify your goal. This can either be a key performance indicator, a strategic measure, the vision of the company or perhaps a third goal you find relevant to your job.
You should use this goal as a pointer for your tasks by asking yourself “Does this task help me in reaching my goal?” If yes then do the task, if not delegate or dismiss it.
Step 2: Use the Eisenhower matrix to visually manage your tasks
The Eisenhower decision matrix is made by the 34th president of USA Dwight D. Eisenhower and is based on the quote:
“What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important.”
The matrix operates in a two by two matrix, with Importance and Urgency on the axes as seen hereby:
Tasks which are important and urgent (Firefighting)– Deadline is tomorrow or closer. It is recommended that you only spend 20% of your time on these types of tasks. If you spend more time in this quadrant you risk getting overwhelmed and stressed.
Tasks which are important but not urgent at the moment. These tasks should be planned and done hereby. It is recommended that 60% of your time is spend in this quadrant as this will make you feel at peace, calm and in control of the tasks.
Tasks which are not important (to your goal), but needs urgent attention due to e.g. deadlines. If you feel overwhelmed on your task list, then take a look on these tasks and decide if they can be either delegated or eliminated. It is recommended that you only spend 20% of your time here, as most of the work here will be worthless which can make you feel that you are wasting your time.
Tasks which does not contribute to your goal. If you receive such a task either delegate or bin it. You should not spend any time in this quadrant.
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