How to Plan and Prioritise

Eisenhower was a very astute man.  And did you know that he came up with the hand in papersUrgent/Important Matrix before Dr Stephen Covey? I didn’t, until I was reading the ILM (Institute of Leadership and Management) magazine Edge.

Eisenhower said ‘An intellectual is a man who takes more words than is necessary to tell more than he knows.’

The Urgent/Important Matrix is about using time effectively, not just efficiently, and in my experience the more effectively you use time the more efficient you become.

In this day and age there just never seems to be enough time. Is this really true?

How often have you taken time out to ‘Stop and Stare’? And perhaps realise what you are doing is getting you nowhere. We’re anxious, we can’t concentrate, everything gets in the way, and then, we simply blow. We tell ourselves that we can do so much because we have so many ‘labour saving’ devices, mobiles, PCs, laptops, we can be contacted anywhere at any time.

In spite of all these gadgets and online calendars (that everyone can set us up appointments with (if we let them) – do we really mange our time efficiently?

Do we spend our time on things that are important and not just urgent? It’s important to distinguish between important and just urgent.

  • Important activities have an outcome that leads to the achievement of your goals.
  • Urgent activities demand immediate attention, and are often associated with the achievement of someone else’s goals (ah had you noticed that?).

We often concentrate on just urgent activities. The things that make the most noise, the things that demand attention because the consequences of not dealing with them are immediate.

The Urgent/Important Matrix is a useful tool for thinking about this.

Eisenhower said, ‘What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important.’ This so-called “Eisenhower Principle” is purported to be how Eisenhower organized his tasks. Dr Stephen Covey made the idea more public in his business classic, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”. Covey called it the “The Urgent/Important Matrix.” I use it often in coaching and on my business courses and on my NLP Business Practitioner Course:

The Urgent/Important Matrix is a powerful way to use to think about priorities. Using it helps you prevent the natural tendency to focus on urgent activities, so that you learn to keep enough time to focus on what’s really important. This is the way you move from “fire fighting”, into a position where you can grow your business and your career.

This is how it works

Divide and A 4 page into 4

Urgent                                                        Non-Urgent

Important

I

Activities

Crises

Pressing Problems

Deadline driven projects

II

Prevention

Relationship building

Recognising new appointments

Planning recreation

Non-Important

III

Interruptions, some phone calls

Some mail, some reports

Some meetings

Proximate, pressing matters

Popular activities

IV

Trivia, busy work

Some mail

Some phone calls

Time wasters

Pleasant activities

Assess the importance to all the activities on a scale of 1 to 5

Remember Eisenhower also said: ‘Leadership – the art of getting someone else to do something that you want done because he wants to do it.’

When people see you are clear about your objectives and boundaries, they will generally not ask you to do “not important” activities in the future, and at best do it themselves or find someone else.

This blog first appeaerd in 2012 on my then and now defunct NLP Highland Blog.

If you would like to know more about your preferred patterns and how you work with these and get things done on your own or with other people please contact me either here or via the Developing Works website, or via my Coaching Website tel. +44 (0) 7796 134081 (What’sApp as well), +44 (0)1224 900748, +44 (0)1309 676004. And please ask questions or comment here.

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