Task Management

Often we think what is important is urgent. However, our values and beliefs evaluate what is important. Our clock defines what is urgent.

Often we think what is important is what is urgent. However, our values and beliefs evaluate what is important. Our clock defines what is urgent. Understanding this is the fundamental of effective task management for a productive lifestyle.

A family tour, a project that will lead to your promotion next month, which one is important? Which one is urgent? Most people pick the project and justify that the tour could wait for another month, but the project is urgent.

We are good at task management with a to-do list. But the to-do list isn’t good at managing us. This one-dimensional list can accommodate only one aspect of prioritization, and our brain is trained over many years to prioritize what is urgent. Therefore the important stuff often ends up at the bottom of the list and goes unnoticed.

Here is how effective people organize their activities

Step 0: Plan for the week, not for the day

Planning for the day is often the most comfortable thing. But while we execute that only, we realize that there is other important stuff not on the list. Find a time when you are alone and undisturbed for effective results from the following steps.

Step I: Define your different roles and goals.

Your responsibilities come from the different roles you play in. A father/mother, a boss, a neighbor, etc. Now in each of those roles, list down what goals you are trying to accomplish. As a parent, you may have to attend your child’s parent’s meeting. As a team-lead, you might have to prepare the reports for the next monthly meeting. List down all of them next to each of your roles.

Step II: Move to quadrants.

Task Quadrants

The alternative to the weak to-do list is matric with importance and urgency in the two axes. Move all your tasks listed in the previous step to the right corner of the matrics.

The important-urgent quadrant will have deadlines, unexpected medical emergencies, etc. The important but not urgent quadrant will have things like 30 min physical exercises, 20 min mediation, family tour, etc. Would you argue that these aren’t important? But they aren’t urgent, so most people don’t take them seriously as their project deadlines.

Step III: Add Your Tasks Into The Week.

Now take for each day of the week, we are going to add tasks. You’d start with the important-urgent things. I wouldn’t.

Always give importance to the important-not urgent tasks. First, put your exercise schedule into every day of your next week, your time to spend with your family. Then squeeze your important-urgent ones. You’d always find room for it. But this way, you don’t give it a chance to rule your mind, you control it.

Final thought

We plan to work with people. Things might not do the same every day. When used properly, this guide might give better results in our everyday interactions with people. However, too much rigidity will kill the very purpose of effective self and interpersonal management. Hence, always make room for the unexpected.

This article is inspired from The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Dr.Stephan Covey. The book is a bestseller with over 30 million copies sold.

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