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Time management with the Eisenhower Matrix

It’s 11 am on a Saturday. You are exhausted after a long week of working hard at your job, you just want to, "need to", relax. But you still haven’t finished that one presentation that is due on Monday. So you decide to tackle it in the afternoon. Before that you need to look into some weekly chores. You make a list of the groceries you need and decide to go buy the stuff, but while doing that you remember that the electricity bill needs to be paid. So you pay the bill and then remember that the bulb in the bathroom isn’t working. So you just step out to buy a bulb and return to replace it. Then you see that your medicine cabinet is a mess and get down to sorting and cleaning that out. By now it’s almost lunch time so you go to the kitchen to cook. By the time you are done with cooking it’s already 2 pm and you are exhausted, so you heap your plate with some food and sit down to relax and eat in front of the TV. You watch two episodes instead of one. Once you get done with lunch you clean the kitchen. It’s now 4pm and neither have you bought the groceries nor have you started with that presentation. And you are even more exhausted than before!

If you had planned your day; made a schedule and stuck to it, then you would probably have completed the important stuff and would be relaxing now.

Of course, changing the light bulb, paying the bills and buying groceries are all important. But it’s not possible to do it all at once. And unfortunately, as adults the TO-DO list is never ending! So then maybe you will NEVER have time to relax and enjoy as you will always be trying to tick things off your list. Therefore it is important to manage our time effectively so that we can avoid such situations.

Time Management is a critical skill we need to ensure we are in control of how we spend our time. Good time management skills only have benefits and ensure one can have a good quality of life. It means you can focus better, work efficiently and thus be more productive. This creates a good work-life balance. It also allows you to achieve better results at work and attain your goals which would lead to more and better opportunities at work and in life. Managing your time well prevents you from feeling overwhelmed and exhausted all the time. It will leave you with more energy and time to do the things you enjoy.

On the contrary, poor time management leads to stress. Living with a mountain of tasks over your head and caught in the middle of a number of things to do all the time ensures that you will constantly be all over the place. Consequently you will have less time to yourself and you will always be overworked and exhausted. This leads to lack of focus, low efficiency and being unproductive. You will always be struggling to get somewhere on time, forever rushing to get things done. All of this leads to a highly stressful life.

So how do you manage your time effectively?

Here are 5 steps to help you do so:

1. Make a to-do list - Put pen to paper and list each and everything you need to do.

2. Segregate the tasks according to type or category – work, home, chores, personal and so on.

3. Prioritise tasks according to the Eisenhower Matrix – The Eisenhower Matrix, also known as the Urgent – Important Matrix, helps to organize tasks based on priorities.

Place the tasks in your To-Do list in one of the four categories:

1. Urgent and Important -

Critical issues, problems to solve and deadlines to meet – Do it now.

2. Important but not Urgent

Long term activities, tasks to achieve goals – Schedule it.

3. Urgent but not Important

Chores and Routine tasks – Delegate them if possible or schedule a day to get them done and out of the way.

4. Not Urgent and not Important

A meeting with no agenda, checking social media – Eliminate it.

4. Plan your day and schedule the tasks with a time limit – Plan each day the night before, using the Urgent - Important Matrix as a guideline as to when to schedule each task. Then allot a time limit to each task. Do not forget to schedule in breaks and rest time as without that your productivity will dip and you will get nothing done.

5. Stick to the plan – Try to follow the schedule you have prepared as much as possible. Cut out all distractions and focus on the task at hand so you can complete it in the stipulated amount of time. But if you do fall off the track then don’t be too hard on yourself. Just try to get back as quickly as possible.

And there you have it… some tricks and hacks to keep you organised and help you manage your time efficiently. After all, time is money, so do your best to spend it wisely!

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