Monday's Thoughts


Two Kinds of Problems

priorities time management

“I have two kinds of problems, the urgent and the important. 

The urgent are not important, and the important are never urgent.”  

                                  Dwight D. Eisenhower (quoting an unnamed university president)


For the last 30 + years, I have sought ways to be more productive myself and to help others do the same. One thing I have learned is that it's crucial to identify which activities are important to you and to your growth, so you can prioritize and schedule them accordingly. Through my research, I discovered a tool inspired by Eisenhower, called the Eisenhower Matrix. It is an effective tool, similar to the matrix highlighted in Steven Covey's book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. It works like this:  Imagine a piece of paper divided into four quadrants:

Quadrant 1:  DO IT FIRST. This is where you list your high-value tasks. Whether they are time-sensitive tasks or pressing problems, they are the activities with deadlines and consequences if not completed on time. Anything that arises that you would say is an actual crisis and emergency can also go in this quadrant. As the quadrant title suggests, do these activities first!

Quadrant 2:  SCHEDULE IT. This is where your other high-value tasks that strategize around long-term goals with no set deadlines can go, such as: lead generation, lead follow up, planning, personal development. Schedule these key activities so that they occur as often as needed, which very well could be daily!

Quadrant 3:  DELEGATE IT. This is where you list your low-value tasks that need to be completed, but don’t require your expertise to do. Figure out who can handle them for you - when at all possible - and delegate!  

Quadrant 4:  DELETE IT.  These would be the little-value tasks that mostly just distract us from focusing on more important tasks and are often a waste of time and energy. Here are a few examples:  browsing/scrolling, unproductive meetings, and water cooler conversations (there are many, many more I could list, but I will let you have fun coming up with your own). Pay attention to what falls into this category for you...and delete them!

This simple, but effective method helps you to be more aware of where you should be spending your time and avoid falling into the “urgency trap”. While in this trap, things will feel urgent and necessary to handle immediately, even when they aren’t. Truly important tasks will often be set aside, so you can busy yourself with what feels more important, but is really just…busy work. Other people often try to create false urgency for you, which is totally unproductive and draining. Do not allow them to lure you into that trap! 

Look, if you fail to give yourself enough time to work on activities that will help you grow and help you achieve your goals, you will create more stress and more frustration for yourself. Your productivity will be reduced...and so will your income. Fast forward a little, and you will look back and wonder what you did with all the time you had or worse...realize how much time you wasted on things that really did not matter! This all adds some more not-so-nice feelings to the pile: guilt, regret, and all of their ugly relatives!

To avoid all of these unwanted realities this awful trap creates, make sure you know what activities you MUST do to grow and make them YOUR PRIORITY! Give the Eisenhower or a similar matrix a try.  

By the way...Eisenhower, apparently was an excellent manager of how he spent his time. How about you? How well do you manage yourself with the time you have been given? My newest product, Managing Yourself:  A Guide to Taking Control of Your Business,” is available to download now! Check it out for yourself: Managing Yourself Course.




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