One of the hardest parts of managing your productivity is learning how to set priorities. Sometimes it can feel like every last thing you need to do is an emergency. But the truth is, there are ways to organize your time and manage the tasks that you need to do. You can finish those tasks when they need to be done without feeling overwhelmed or rushed. You can increase productivity by prioritizing.
Increase Productivity By Prioritizing
Thankfully Stephen Covey’s time management grid is here to save us from ourselves. It looks like this:
The way you use the grid is to designate each item on your to-do list to a colored square. Instead of quadrants like Mr. Covey’ has assigned, they are different colors here.
* Purple: Do it immediately
* Green: Do it but it will take longer and need more strategic planning
* Pink: Distractions, but needed by others
* Light green: Not at all important and often used in order to procrastinate
Use the grid to help create your daily to-do list. Prioritize the importance and urgency of each item you have to pick from before you put it on the list. It can be as simple as doing the purple things first, then green, pink, and light green. But, if you do it this way you might miss out on something important you can learn from the time management grid.
Eliminate Urgency from Your Life
By focusing on green you can eventually lessen the purple items on your list. By learning to say no to others you can virtually eliminate the pink things, too. Finally, by getting your schedule under control the light green will eliminate itself because you won’t feel the need to procrastinate anymore. In other words, you will increase productivity by prioritizing.
Learn to Say No
As children we are taught to not say no. Unfortunately, this transfers over to adulthood in a bad way, especially for women. If you determine something is in the pink or light green area, you can use that to determine whether or not you should say no. What if it’s something that your client wants that takes five minutes but it’s not that important? You can decide to squeeze it in. And if it’s something you just like to do, you can always do it after you’ve done three purple or green tasks.
Assess Your Time Expenditures Now
Now that you have Dr. Covey’s time management chart, you can go back and re-evaluate the things you are currently doing each day to find out what color they are. Knowing their color will help you label each thing that you do throughout the days, weeks and months ahead so that you can prioritize them.
Finally, when you are assessing any task, make sure you label it, then ask yourself if it fits in with your core values and goals. If it does, it’s going to be in either the purple square or the green square. If it doesn’t, it’s probably in one of the other squares. As you learn to use this system it will start becoming more automatic so that you can say yes or no faster and put your time management on auto drive.
By taking a moment to assess each task you have before you, assigning it to a square, and prioritizing it, you will increase productivity.