How To Plan and Prioritize Effectively

Time is a limited resource, and we rarely stop to think how we spend it in the grand scheme of things. We get so caught up in being busy; we end up sacrificing effectiveness for efficiency.

Managing your time might involves notes, to-do lists, and calendars, which often leave little room for items with long-term benefits. In addition to neglecting reading or exercising, we end up leaving no room for spontaneity.

There are two factors that affect planning, timing and review. Planning on a weekly basis, will allow you to allocate your time according to a bigger picture. You won’t feel overwhelmed by last second planning the day of, or by having to map out an entire month.

Review is also an important part of planning, as all plans are a basis to change. Each night, look over your tasks for the next day and adjust your schedule according to new circumstances. The timing of this activity is crucial, as your subconscious will process each item overnight, for better results the following day.

However, before we can begin to plan our week we must get our priorities in order. There is no right or wrong here, but you should spend time evaluating your activities and determining their level of importance.

While lists alone often result in placing urgent items first, those tasks are not always important. On the other hand, filling in your calendar without lists might result in allocating too much time for items that are neither urgent nor important.

The most effective method for managing your time and prioritizing tasks is the 4 Quadrant Method by Stephen R. Covey. At the beginning of each week list all items, and order them in 4 quadrants according to urgency and importance levels.

Then proceed to schedule your week by working your way clockwise. Urgent and unimportant items should not take precedence over items that are important but not urgent. This will ensure you accomplish your goals, by completing tasks that actually matter. Focusing on items in Q2 will minimize Q1 over time, and ensure you spend your time effectively.

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