Often when we struggle to meet our daily goals, it’s more likely due to a time management problem versus lack of motivation. You start the day strong. You wake up, go through your morning routine and make a to-do list for what you want to accomplish that day. The motivation is there, the desire to follow through is there, but something happens between motivation and results that leaves us frustrated in that in-between. That’s where time management comes in.
Our days are filled with hundreds of small decisions we have to make along the way. Each decision matters. We’re constantly exposed to urgent, non-urgent, important, and unimportant tasks that want our attention. The key to meeting your daily goals is deciding which ones to act on now and which to tackle later.
The Four Quadrants of Time Management Matrix is a great tool to help decipher what you should put your time and attention towards to accomplish daily/weekly/monthly goals. There will always be an urgent task trying to get your attention, but is it actually important and time-sensitive?
These are emergencies, crises, pressing problems, and deadline-driven initiatives. These things are important, urgent, and sometimes even unexpected. These tasks will require your immediate attention, even if they weren’t necessarily on your to-do for the day. Ideally, most of these tasks are in your calendar, and you are managing your time wisely to complete them with ample time.
Not Urgent Important
Preparation, planning, value-based, relationship building, replenishment-focused tasks fall in this quadrant. These are the types of things it’s easy to brush under the rug because they don’t have urgency around them. However, these are often the things we need the most to stay on track and to provide clarity for what we are trying to accomplish. If you don’t schedule replenishment time, it’s easy to get burned out. If you don’t build relationships, it will be a lot harder to accomplish what you’re after.
Urgent Not Important
This is the tricky quadrant. These are the things that typically throw us off the most because we mistake them for being important when in reality, they’re just time wasters—if not managed properly. These are the interruptions that come our way. Sometimes they’re last-minute calls, meetings, conversations with coworkers that go on longer than expected. Be aware of these types of distractions, so you don’t accidentally spend the majority of your day in this quadrant.
Not Urgent Not Important
This is where busywork, time-wasters, and trivial activities typically fall. All of us have these tasks. The trick is to make sure we’re planning these into our week, in the cracks of our day, so we’re not spending the majority of our time on them. For example, if you know you’re the most productive early in the morning, you won’t want to start your day with not urgent, not important tasks.
“Do the hard jobs first. The easy jobs will take care of themselves.” —Dale Carnegie