By David Henzel, co-founder of TaskDrive—we support sales and marketing teams with personalized lead research and outbound campaigns.
We all only have a certain amount of hours each day to fit in all of the activities we want to achieve. We all know how to fill in our calendars, but many are still unaware that true efficiency lies in prioritizing the tasks we want to devote our days to. Attempting to take on too many obligations can sap our energy, which can easily result in feeling overwhelmed or, worse, burned out. Luckily, there are leaders and great thinkers who have faced the same challenges before us and have defined effective concepts to help us decide how to best spend our time.
Here are five mindset tools you can use when defining how to spend your time:
The Eisenhower Matrix
While this prioritization tool was established by the 34th President of the United States, Dwight D. Eisenhower, it was made popular by author Stephen Covey in his best-seller The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People. Also known as the Time-Management Matrix, this technique has you categorize tasks into four quadrants: urgent and important, important but not urgent, urgent but not important, and not urgent and not important. This system helps differentiate between activities that need to be dealt with promptly, those that matter for reaching long-term goals and those that are simply time-wasting.
The goal of the Eisenhower Matrix is to help individuals focus on tasks that align with their goals and priorities while minimizing time spent on less important or nonessential activities. It encourages effective time management and decision-making by providing a visual framework for assessing the relative importance and urgency of tasks.
The 4 D’s Of Time Management
The 4 D’s of Time Management is a mnemonic used to categorize tasks and decisions in order to prioritize and manage them effectively. The 4 D’s stand for: do, delegate, defer and delete. Together they provide a practical framework for better time management and productivity by allowing you to make more informed decisions about where to allocate your time and energy and to think about ways you can hand over certain tasks or eliminate nonessential activities altogether.
Focusing On The Most Valuable Tasks
It’s actually quite easy to understand what activities should be given priority and can be summed up simply with a math equation: calculating your $10, $100 and $1,000 tasks. What does this mean exactly? Basically, when deciding what activities to prioritize, think about what the rewards of said activity are and engage in them accordingly. Don’t get hung up on the specifics of numbers. In addition to getting your actual (paying) work done, this tool can also be used to envision the value achieving your long-term goals will bring and inspire the actions you take today toward achieving them.
Using Your Values, Vision And Mission As A Filter
I can’t emphasize more the importance of having core values, a defined vision and a clear mission in all areas of life in order to give everything you do purpose. But one of the best ways this system can work to benefit your life is to use the concept as a decision-making filter for what you want to spend your time on. If you find that certain activities do not serve your ultimate purpose in life, then it is high time to start eliminating them. Similarly, I regularly recall the phrase: “If it’s not a ‘Hell Yeah,’ it’s a ‘Hell No’!” derived from Derek Sivers’ book Hell Yeah Or No: What’s Worth Doing. This helps me assess whether the activity at hand is indeed something I want to be spending my time doing.
Keeping An Error Log
The best way to win at anything is to understand where potential failures lie. There is a goldmine that lies beneath understanding where the errors transpire when trying to live out your ideal timeline. If you can preempt them, that’s great. It means foreseeing any potential obstacles and establishing measures to surpass them. But if not, and you are faced with challenges that have already surfaced, then write down (or even simply just think about) what went wrong and where and then adjust the way you spend your time and energy accordingly. Sometimes, certain activities need to be honed and tweaked to optimally fit into your schedule so don’t get down when you can’t follow your own schedule, just figure out what you can learn from why you failed.
Each of these techniques is, in its own right, a game-changing method to establish what matters most when managing how you spend your time. Applying these concepts—such as incorporating regular activities to achieve your long-term goals and using setbacks as learning opportunities—is what can enable you to stay ahead of the game and to always be at peak performance.