Tag Archive: urgent tasks

SpiralClock-Smaller2We are all overcome with information and so many of us are wearing a number of different hats-juggling business and our personal lives. Executives, business owners, entrepreneurs, solopreneurs, office workers and homemakers alike are all feeling the pressure that the high speed pace of today’s culture brings. Here are some things to consider:

  • The average U.S. professional spends at least 10 hours each week just managing email. 25% of the average work week; some say it’s more
  • The average person gets interrupted once every 8 minutes; each interruption takes about 5 minutes totaling 4 hours, which equals half of the work day
  • 20% of the average work day is spent on things considered to be important or crucial while 80% of the work day is spent on things considered to be of little or no value
  • A person who works with a cluttered desk spends at least 1½-2 hours each day looking for things-that’s 7½-10 hours each work week
  • Only 5% of business and professional people implement a to-do list on a daily basis

Given the information overload and these statistics, there has never been a time when there has been a greater need for our personal and business lives to be organized. With those same things in mind, we see that there is also a need for solutions that help us get things done. Time is our most precious resource; it cannot be saved, it has to be used and once it’s gone, we can’t get it back. We have to use the right tools and strategies to manage our time for ultimate productivity.

Your time can go towards any number of activities and most times people give their time over to tasks that don’t have anything to do with their goals. People typically give time over to urgent things like solving problems and crises or time wasters, busy work and non-productive tasks. When your time is spent on preventing the problems, crises, dealing with interruptions and handling pressing tasks at the last minute although you’ve had significant time to complete them, you’re operating in a way that doesn’t contribute to your overall success because you’re not getting to the important things on a timely basis or at all. If that’s what’s happening with you, think about the impact that it’s having on your business. What’s happening as a result of the way that you are relating to time? Take a moment and seriously think about that and answer the question.

Very few people are focused on tasks that come about as a result of planning and things that prevent crises and problems, but this is where productive, successful people focus their time. This is why only roughly 8% of people reach their goals every year. Do you know where your time is going? If not, stop and think about what things would be like if you could operate this way. What would your days and your life look like? More importantly, how do you get to the point of operating that way? By looking at everything you have on your plate and the things you would like to place on your plate. There is an exercise that Stephen Covey proposed that does work when it comes to seeing where your time is going and getting to the important things.

  • Get a pack of index cards. On each card, write one thing that you feel you should do, want to do, hope to do, plan to do or dream of doing. Be sure you include everything no matter how big or small it is. Keep going until you run out of things.
  • Next, separate the cards into two piles. The first being things that have to be done right now and the other being things that don’t have to be done right now. These are your urgent and non urgent items.
  • Go through both piles and separate each one into important and not important stacks so that you end up with four stacks. (Urgent, not urgent, important and not important)
  • Take the two not important stacks and put them in a safe place. You are now left with what’s important.
  • Make a commitment to eliminate all of the activities that didn’t make it to your important piles. After you work on your important and urgent tasks, work on things that are important but not urgent. No matter how pressing something might seem to be, don’t do it unless it’s important.

With only 20% of the work day being spent on things that are considered to be important or crucial, and 80% of the work day being spent on things that are considered to be of little or no value, the script has to be flipped so that the work day is spent on the things that are important; the things that matter most. If you’re wasting your time, flip the script to make the transition that will get you into the 8% of people who reach their goals by getting things done.


With the fast pace at which we all move and the multiple hats we all wear, it’s easy to have what seems like and endless number of things to do.  The demands on our time being what they are make it even more important to be organized and on top of your game.

Having a to-do list to help manage the many things on your agenda is a key factor in the game.  If you’re using one effectively on a regular basis, you’re someone who’s committed to productivity.  If you don’t have a to-do list, chances are that you are overwhelmed by the amount of things you have to do and may be forgetting important things.  If this is the case, consider what having and effectively using a to-do list will do for you:

  • All of your tasks are in one place and prioritized
  • You can clearly see what needs to be done
  • Prioritizing keeps you on track
  • You are organized, and more efficient
  • You’re not stressed by unimportant tasks
  • Your complete, prioritized to-do list drives your time management system

Without a solid to-do list you lack focus and you’re not as efficient or reliable to those around you.  If you have a to-do list, is it doing these things for you?  If not, chances are that it’ s not up to date, contains old, unfinished items and you don’t update it on a regular basis as part of a time management system.

If this is true and you’re ready to whip things into shape, start by getting the old items off of the list.  Apply one of the three D’s: get them done, delegate them or delete them altogether.  Add to your list all of the things that you have to do, then prioritize them.  I suggest that you also categorize them as well so that you can easily locate tasks and make updates to the list.  For example, some of the categories that I have are: personal, business development, products, health, etc.  Categorize your tasks in a way that works for you. If a task is going to take you longer than 15 minutes to do, create a block of time in your calendar.

Besides the key factors of containing all of your tasks and being prioritized, your to-do list has to be part of a time management system that contains a time management tool that fits your personality, an organized home or work space and established effective habits.  All the key elements of this system keep you from struggling and being busy with the unimportant, urgent things and take you to a place where you’re focused on what’s important and not urgent, which are the ideal tasks that you want to have on your list.  You’re organized, in control and on top of your game.

Part 2:

To round out the list of things that you can begin to do right now to gain control over your workload, try implementing these habits:

Work on the tasks that are important but not urgent- Usually people find themselves working on those things that are urgent but not important. Things like non productive meetings, interruptions and the mail. What we really want to be able to focus on are the things that are not urgent, but important. Those are the things that involve prevention, planning, seizing opportunities and recreation. Knowing that 80% of our desired results come from 20% of high leverage activities, we can see that the greatest payoff would come from working on those things that are important but not urgent. By doing so, you position yourself to spend less time handling crises; working smarter, not harder.

Break larger tasks down into smaller pieces so that the larger task is easy to accomplish. Look at it as though you are eating a meal. You eat a meal one bite at a time. Break the larger task down into components or bites and take each one of those on individually. When you finish one of the components, celebrate your accomplishment. It doesn’t have to be anything big, but do it. It will help to fuel you along and get the other pieces of the larger task done.

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