How To: Utilise The Priority Matirx
We’ve all had those days, weeks and months where we feel we have a mountain of things to get through but never seem to find a great way to manage them. I’m a sucker for a to-do list; on my desk alone at the moment I have 4 separate to-do lists that I juggle between, I also have the worst habit of scribbling down things and leaving personal notes all over the place that I then later forget.
What makes Priority Matrixes so great?
Lists can be a great way to help manage your time whilst giving you a great sense of achievement through the act of ticking of tasks you’ve managed to complete without having a full-blown melt down.
This post is all about how to aid your task management and create a more achievable and successful process of working through your goals. If you’ve never heard of a priority matrix then this will certainly be a game changer for you. The general idea is to create 4 sections ranging from most import and urgent to least important and urgent tasks. In doing so helping you realise what really does need to get done first rather then procrastinate and ultimately falling into a false sense of productivity in doing the “busy work”, rather then a hard work.
Below is a simple graphic illustration I have made to help explain which types of tasks and to dos go into each section.
Section 1- Important and Urgent
i.e Highest priority and must be completed today.
These tend to also be the most daunting tasks, the ones we tend to procrastinate over and avoid doing because they can seem a little overwhelming at times. That is a completely natural, but you must remind yourself that these are also the most rewarding to achieve and get done. I always try to start my day with one of these to help me feel that no matter what else might happen I have done one major task that I should feel proud of doing.
Ultimately these are the tasks that you alone will need to do as they are specifically important and urgent to you; they will also require your personal knowledge and skills to do, although you may have a co-worker you trust to do a lot of smaller tasks you cant expect everyone to help you with the heavy lifting. Remember something that is in section 1 for you wont always be perceived as this by someone else. You have to trust your gut and know that this will aid your productivity rather than create a feeling of anxiety and overwhelming nature.
Section 2- Important but not urgent
i.e Tasks that need to be planned in to be done at a later point once items in section 1 have been fulfilled.
This section is pretty self-explanatory but I find a lot of my tasks fall into this. Not everything has to be done here and now but should be something to consider doing throughout the day or between bigger tasks of section 1. These tasks don’t 100% necessarily need to be completed by you, however they do tend to be the more fun, active and general every day tasks that make your business, work or daily lifestyle seem enjoyable and worth getting out of bed for.
A great example in my Prints By Nature day to day business is making products, including block printing, dying and general creating. I know at first it would seem that this should be in section 1 but if I have ample stock already made [that hasn’t been uploaded onto the shop yet] then clearly uploading what I have already made should be a higher priority than making even more to add to the pile.
I still love to make my products and seeing as it’s a very stop-start way of making it can certainly be time managed, I also tend to do it in my down time or when I feel I need an afternoon or evening to decompress from the everyday admin stress I get overwhelmed by.
Section 3 Urgent but not Important.
i.e Tasks that can’t wait for another day but don’t need to be completed quickly.
If you’re lucky enough to work in a team or own a business with employees this is where tasks can be delegated; remembering to correspond via e-mail, meetings and brief phone calls to ensure urgent tasks are completed but aren’t necessarily something you specifically have to do.
With regards to personal tasks this could be asking a housemate, partner or someone to help out with chores around the house or managing those pesky bill phone calls.
If however you are a sole trader and don’t have the ability to delegate tasks to anyone but yourself; (that’s rite the cat can’t help with the tax returns or parcel up the weekends bundle of orders) these are the tasks that should be time manageable. I would usually suggest interchanging these tasks with ones in section 2, simply to give yourself a little mental break and time to re-evaluate your daily progress.
Soon enough you will start to work out how valuable your time is to each type of task and hopefully shouldn’t have too many in this section.
Section 4 - Not important and not Urgent.
I.e Tasks that can wait for another day or once all other tasks have been completed.
These are tasks that will make the bottom of the list, the easy tasks that we fill our time procrastinating with or fill us with immediate satisfaction but ultimately remind us we’re not doing something that is a higher priority.
Of course, the tasks still need to be completed but hold little importance to the day to day running of your job, business or family life.
Tips To Consider
· Include personal and business goals in the same matrix, this helps you to not forget a healthy work life balance as well as restrict yourself from over working and producing unattainable goal setting.
· Don’t let others distract you form YOUR goals and priorities. Everyone works differently which means everyone will have an opinion on what tasks are more important than others. As long as you have achieved the goals you have set for each section you will gain a higher sense of self-worth and achievement.
· Limit the amount of tasks you create for each section. No one person can conquer the world in a day. Be kind to yourself and if you feel that doing all of the big tasks first thing is a little overwhelming then give yourself some down time and do a less important goal afterwards - further providing you with time to re-evaluate your daily goals.
· That being said try not to procrastinate too much, that includes spending too much time goal setting and writing lists. Busy work is great to make us feel we are doing a lot of work but remember its more about the quality of the work then boasting abut how much unimportant work we have achieved.
I love feedback over at Prints By Nature headquarters so if you’ve given this a go or have found it in anyway helpful let me know via the Contact Page
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