Sometimes I need some clarity around where I need to put my time and energy. I have a number of projects and commitments, but not all them require urgent attention. Nor are they of equal importance.
After a crazy, busy month with everything either falling due or booked in, I took a little time today to have a look at what’s on my plate and prioritise. A small pause to see the bigger picture could mean the difference between continuing to spin the wheels and gaining traction.
Every now and then I use the Urgent/Important matrix. I map my projects and commitments onto the matrix. This exercise is about using time and energy more effectively and working towards a state of the right things being done and being okay with the ones that don’t.
After mapping the projects and commitments, the priorities are identified. Some examples or images of the Urgent/Important matrix have ‘not important/ important’; delegate or delete. To me, all of what I do is important, but there will be things that are of high importance and some of lower importance (to achieving goals or outcomes). This is my slightly adapted take on the Urgent/Important matrix.
- high importance, high urgency = schedule in and must do first
- high importance, low urgency = schedule in regular time, but do after the ‘must do’s are done for the day.
- low importance, high urgency = do I really need to do this now? can it wait? reschedule or do when have time
- low importance, low urgency = nice to do, but probably don’t need to.
So what happens if there are a number of projects/ commitments coming under ‘1’? You need to break down the order of these further. These will be dependent on your personal values. I do this with A, B, C, etc.
Looking at my matrix, I’m feeling good about where my time and energy is going, generally. There are a couple of adjustments to be made and I just need to make sure that what is really important to me actually comes first and I’m not distracted by other unnecessary tasks.
My ‘must do’s:
- fitness and wellbeing – scheduling in my exercise and ensure I do meditation 3-4 times a week
- work (naturally)
- wedding and honeymoon plans and preparation (because this is important to us as a couple)
- writing here at Flight Path/ #blogjune
My ‘it can wait for now’ items include home improvements such as painting and re-modelling the laundry and personal writing projects.
Priorities and identifying what is urgent/important are not static. What is of high importance and high urgency now may only last a week or a month, for example. Circumstances change. Checking in on how time and energy is being used, I’ve found to be a great way of keeping these aligned with goals and personal values. This exercise doesn’t take long. It took me about five minutes.
Mindtools have some great resources to check out. And if you Google ‘important urgent matrix’, there are a number of diagrams to inspire your own take on the exercise, or adapt it to your situation or purpose.
Would you be willing to pause for five minutes to see how your time and energy should be used?