Mondays are productivity days at SimpleProductivity blog.
“The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” — Stephen Covey
I saw this quote the other day and it really got me thinking. Far too often I get through a bunch of tasks, just to find that I haven’t made progress on the things that are part of my bigger goals and dreams. I sometimes feel like I am sacrificing my dreams for a clean kitchen. That’s oversimplifying it, but it captures the gist of my frustration.
Standard Time Management
That’s not to say taking care of those small things isn’t important. Without those small tasks taken care of, I find they nag at me and distract me from the task at hand. At the same time, there are always more to do.
Standard time management theory says that we need to take all our tasks, and prioritize them. This should be a combination of urgency and importance.
Let’s look at Covey’s 4 quadrant model:
Urgency is fairly well-defined. As a due date approaches, things get more urgent. But what about importance? This is more about whether or not it contributes to your long-term goals.
Does doing the laundry contribute to your long-term goals? Probably not. So that alone would put it in the unimportant quadrants.
But on the other hand…let the laundry go too long, and it will jump to quadrant one: urgent and important. It will have become a crisis, that could have been avoided.
Using this sort of priority model, the unimportant maintenance tasks will always be at the bottom of the list, until they take precedence by becoming a crisis. This then knocks the goal work out of the running. Yet if you prioritize them up, you can have a long list of things that prevent you from doing your goal work.
Schedule Your Priorities
When you schedule your priorities, you make appointments with yourself to work on those items. It doesn’t matter if you get them done, because this is a long-term strategy. Simply block out time to work on those goals.
Once you have those areas set, you can work on the non-goal work as much as your schedule allows.
Similar to Most Important Tasks
This approach is similar to Leo Baubata’s Zen To Done approach of selecting three MITs (Most Important Tasks). The difference is that he says to knock those MITs out right away. For those of us not in control of our schedules, this may not be possible, so putting those MITs in your schedule designates time and ensures you will get the work done.
I am going to issue a challenge here. I am going to try this experiment for two weeks, and see where it gets me. I would like some company, though, so I am going to ask you to try it as well. I will accept summaries of the results to be published in an article. All you have to do is comment on this post that you will try this challenge.
Let’s see how scheduling your priorities can jumpstart your productivity. Leave a comment below if you want to join the challenge!
Photo by Take a Note. Licensed under Creative Commons.