How to start being a time management wizard

The Eisenhower Matrix may just be what you need to start being more organized

Time means everything. The modern world demands you to make more in less time, and sometimes, we just can't do it, but that's okay. Quality should be over quantity all the time.

Managing your time to do the right things every day is an essential soft skill to learn if you want to be the best. This article will show you the basics of time management and some tips you can use now.

Preparation is key

Companies like Peloton, Tesla, and Stripe started with a business plan that set them for success. Football matches are 70% planning and 30% execution. Planning before doing anything is vital to see those goals come to fruition.

A simple way to organize yourself to set priorities. And grind through the right activities you've set yourself to do.

Setting priorities will significantly improve any planned days you have. But how do you do it? How do you know what's urgent when it seems everything is?

The Eisenhower Matrix, created by Stephen Covey, is probably what you're looking for. Based on Dwight D. Eisenhower's insights (probably one of the most productive fellas that ever lived), Covey created this model to know how critical specific tasks were. It's a famous (and useful) tool to start managing your time.

To begin, list all the tasks you have to do in the next week. Draw a square and divide it by other 4 little squares, just like a window.

Now, since this is a matrix, you need some parameters to measure. From top-to-bottom, the importance of the task grows. This means that functions that are the most important will be at the top of the matrix. Likewise, from left-to-right, go the most urgent ones.You should have something like this:

Okay, how does this work?

  • At the top-left quadrant, you will write the tasks you need to do ASAP. These tasks have a tight deadline, and it will be awful if you don't do them right away (for example, answering an email from a client, give a PR statement in crisis mode).
  • The top-right square will hold your schedulable tasks. These activities are critical to do, but you don't need to act immediately. Some of these tasks would be to do some networking, take a course or exercise.
  • The bottom-left corner belongs to tasks that need to be done, but maybe not by you. It would be better if you delegated these tasks. e.g., Scheduling posts, answering comments.
  • Finally, the bottom-right quadrant is for tasks that are neither important nor urgent. Distractions and pointless tasks usually go here.

What should I do with these quadrants?

So you've finished doing this activity. Now what? In his book, Covey explains the way they work:

Important + Urgent

Quadrant 1 tasks are inevitable. You can't avoid them, or they will bite you in the butt if you do so. We recommend to order them by date and difficulty.

Do you need to send a report by Friday? It's better if you start to collect all the info by Monday.

Do you need to answer an email with the tag [URGENT]? Depending on the email's content, the task requested might be simple or not, but replying is easier to do and better if you answer early.

With Retimer, you can count how much time and money you're spending in important (yet long and tedious) meetings. It's a great tool to improve your productivity and have a healthy day!

The goal of the Eisenhower Matrix is to eventually have as few tasks here as possible. Keep that in mind as we move to the next quadrant.

Important + Not urgent

Here's where the magic happens. These tasks usually aren't as urgent as the first quadrant, but completing them helps you fulfill your goals in the long term. Plus, when you begin to finish tasks in the second quadrant, it's not uncommon to see the first quadrant tasks go down.

Why does this happen? As you start to work more and more on your development and planning (where these usually go), you begin to anticipate tasks that will occur in the future. This foresight is what will help you do better work.

With Retimer, you can see how much time you're investing in critical meetings like Sprint Plannings, Kickoffs, and Retrospectives and collect data that will help you improve these times.

Urgent & Not important

As you start taking in more responsibilities, there comes a time when you wish you had a helping hand with you. Someone to take on specific tasks and do them for you. Try to delegate tasks that are repetitive and eventually lose priority for you.

Placing tasks here doesn't mean that you're diminishing them; ironically, a Quadrant 3 for you may be a Quadrant 1 for a member of your team.

Not urgent & Not important

Finally, tasks in the fourth quadrant are a bit weird, to say the least. They aren't urgent, so you don't need to do them right away, and aren't necessary, so doing them won't do you any good in the long run.

This quadrant exists to show you what you shouldn't be doing. Numbness swiping through social media; buying things you don't need; procrastinate answering an email (and instead you decide to wash the dishes or organize your inbox).

Finding the root of these tasks is a whole article in itself, but just make sure that they don't get in front of what you really want to do.

It's all about repetition.

Time management, although simple, it's a long process that takes determination and commitment to do. Not every framework, tool, or model works for everyone, but there's a solution for everybody. You just have to look deep and try the ones that suit you best; we're sure that you won't regret the time spent on planning your project, week or day.

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