We start the week and we already have hundreds of tasks and goals to accomplish in mind. From the mundane household chores to the most important professional goals, going through that time we want to spend with family and friends. Surely we have never stopped to think about how many things we get to do throughout the week, and how much we have left to do. Although I do not recommend doing this, I do recommend the following tool to, at least, classify these tasks to achieve the objectives that are most important to us. This is the Eisenhower matrix for prioritizing tasks.
As can be seen in the matrix , in order to decide the tasks to be carried out, we only have to discriminate how urgent and important that task is. Therefore, it seems that the most important quadrant to be effective is the urgent-important. In other words, if I have a meeting with a client today at 9 in the morning, in which a negotiation is at stake that could mean thousands of euros for my company and I have to prepare a very complete report, it is definitely the priority task where I have to focus all my attention. This is true, but… should we allocate all our time to this quadrant? The answer is no. If all our time is for this quadrant, we will have to rethink our goals and learn to better plan our time. In addition, we will have to begin to become aware of how much time we allocate to the quadrants from which we can cut time, which are those of non-important tasks.
It is true that we live immersed in this quadrant most of our time, since it seems that today we have to solve pressing problems at all times, tasks that are due today whether they are important or not, etc. In short, we spent the whole day in crisis.
But there is another extremely important quadrant, which is that of the tasks that are important but not urgent, and that are the ones that we tend to neglect with greater probability. These are the tasks that we must keep in mind when planning and scheduling. When we do not pay attention to these tasks, they end up becoming urgent. Then we find ourselves in situations of stress, guilt for not having done it before and our performance is much worse. Returning to the previous example, if I have been preparing the report that I had to prepare for the meeting the previous week and I have been preparing my strategy carefully, I will not be so stressed, I will think clearly and I will achieve my objectives with greater security.
It seems that it is clear that attending to the most important thing is the priority, whether it is urgent or not. But what about what is not important? New technologies and social networks have made great strides in managing our time, but they also make us waste a lot of time because many of them are urgent but not important at all. A few years ago we were interrupted by the telephone, now, smartphones, which on the other hand seem like a fabulous invention, interrupt us in many ways: emails, messages, calls, social networks, internet, etc.
I can think of several strategies to limit all these tasks that are not important and that take time away from the ones that are. The first step is to become aware of what is really important in our lives and set clear goals accordingly. From there we can learn to say NO without feeling guilty, but knowing that it is for our most important goals, and therefore for our well-being and happiness.