Art of conscious self-development

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Effective time management

Effective time management

Do you think that you are using your time best? Let’s check whether your actions really bring you closer to achieving your goals. Today I will explain a concept that will allow you to use your time effectively. Start achieving your goals through a wiser time management.

When I read about this concept in Stephen Covey’s book “7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, I was very surprised. I never realized what mistakes I was making in the organization of my day and the fact that it was not a path towards success. From that moment on I knew what to focus on.

 

First of all, I want to present you with the time management matrix (Eisenhower square). This is a division of your activities during the day put in the four quadrants.

 

Urgent Non-urgent
Important QUADRANT 1Important phone calls

Urgent matters

Tasks with deadlines given

Crises

QUADRANT 2Creating plans

Carrying out plans

Building health, relationships

Crisis prevention

Learning

Unimportant QUADRANT 3Tasks assigned by someone else

Some phone calls

Urgent matters

QUADRANT 4Everyday pleasures

„Thieves of time”

Internet

TV

 

This matrix is ​​determined by two factors-the urgency and importance. Urgent tasks are those that must be done immediately, without postponing (for example, a phone call). They require immediate action. Important tasks are those that are meaningful in regard to achieving our goals, both professional and private. Their implementation will get you closer in some way to them, being a significant contribution and the next step at the same time.

 

Description of the quarters

1. Important/Urgent is the quarter which we typically focus on most. It usually contains important phone calls, meetings, tasks with deadlines. These issues need to be addressed immediately and you cannot miss them. Tasks in this quadrant cannot be avoided but people caught up in this quadrant lead their lives in stress, rush and constant nervousness.

 

2. Important/Non-urgent is the quarter which I will talk most about. These are the things that have the greatest impact on achieving our goals, however, those are not matters of urgency and we can put them off for later. Unfortunately, in most cases, after putting them off the day to finally take care of them never comes.

3. Unimportant/Urgent is the quadrant responsible for tasks and activities we cannot completely get rid of but we can give it to somebody else or simply say “no.” Typically, we think that these are important things but in reality, they aren’t that significant. They require a lot of time and at the same time, they do not have any contribution to our goals. If you want to know whether a given task should be placed in this quadrant, ask yourself, “Will this task bring me closer to achieving my goal?”. If the answer is no, think about giving up on its implementation.

 

4. Unimportant/Non-urgent is the quadrant consisting of fun, relaxation and different „thieves of time” such as newspapers and the Internet. Of course you cannot completely resign from this quarter but we often spend far too much time on those activities.

 

The second quarter

The second quarter is definitely the key to the effective time management. When you set a specific goal you want to achieve, steps towards it will most probably not be urgent. They won’t be urgent meaning that you won’t have to take those steps immediately. Therefore, it is very easy to put those steps off for later and as a result completely forget about them. Focusing largely on the activities of this quarter will help you achieve all your goals. Examples of such non-urgent but important tasks may be physical exercises when you want to be healthy and in shape; meeting with a client / friend when your goal is to have a great business or private relationship; preparing an action plan when you want to create a website, etc. So anything which may bring you closer to your goals.

 

After reading this article I want you to change the structure of the distribution of time spent in specific quadrants. For the sake of other quarters, start spending more and more time in the second one.

If you do not know yet what tasks are in your second quarter, you can ask yourself a simple question. “What can I do on a daily basis, which will significantly improve my life?” List all the answers that come to your mind. It will surely be much easier if you already have your goals established. If you haven’t selected them yet, it’s high time you did it! Here you will find an article about the setting goals. Responses to the question mentioned before are what you should focus on and devote most of your time to.

How to have more time?

Most time you’ll get from the third and the fourth quarter. There are just few important tasks which you can dismiss (some of the tasks from the third quadrant you can pass to someone else to do). You cannot give up on the tasks from the first quarter, so if you spend a lot of time there, start slowly devoting more and more time for the tasks of the second quarter. That is how the quarter of important / urgent will shrink, because dealing with the second quadrant will automatically prevent many sudden affairs from happening, or help you prepare for their sudden occurrence. If this does not happen, some of the tasks of the second quarter will soon turn into the tasks of the first quarter.

 

An example? You have to do the project. Deadline is in three months. It is a long time so you think to yourself “I’ll do it a month before.” It is a month before and you think to yourself “I’ll do it next week.” In the end, it turns out that the project must be done in two days and you have a big task from the first quarter ahead of you and at the same time a lot of hurry and stress. Remember that less and less activities in the first quarter will allow you to avoid anxiety resulting from things to do there. Gain valuable time to deal with things in the second quarter. Being the most active in this most important quadrant will automatically reduce the first quarter.

The concept of the second quarter is great because it involves less haste and less stress with increased effectiveness in achieving your goals. Although it requires the skill to say “no” to many operations, which until now filled our lives, but this is the game worth the candle. The tasks from the second quarter cannot be done immediately. I therefore felt a bit strange at the beginning when I started to deal with these tasks. But when you realize that these steps are actually of a greater importance to you and your life than any other and they determine who you’ll become in the future and how you will live your life, you start dealing with them with pleasure and enthusiasm. Deciding on the second quarter you take responsibility for your life and begin to consciously direct it.

Sometimes you may not be sure to which quarter does a given activity belong to. For example, is watching a movie an important resting activity or just a waste of time that you could spent on something else? My advice to you is don’t rearrange your life to be fully dependant on the time management matrix. If you feel tired, rest as much as needed and mark resting as an important and necessary task. Remember about the matrix when you are planning the next week or the next day – include there as many tasks from the second quarter as possible. How do I use it? I don’t split all my daily tasks on quadrants, I just always remember that the tasks from the second quarter are the most important and those are the activities I devote most of my time to.

 



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