Being in control of the time you allocate to certain tasks helps you to maintain order in your life and helps balance the myriad factors competing for your time and attention.
Working carers are no strangers to juggling the demands of work and caring. But time is finite and when you try and stretch it even further by adding things like study, exercise, social life, other family commitments, and personal interests, you can create a lot of stress in your life.
Trying to fit everything in will only work if you can exercise conscious control over the amount of time you spend on specific activities. Being in control of the time you allocate to certain tasks helps you to maintain order in your life and helps balance the myriad factors competing for your time and attention. Conversely, being overwhelmed with tasks and not having enough time to complete them, can lead to inertia and being unsure where to even start.
You have probably recognised where this is heading – the importance of time management. If you want to increase your effectiveness and efficiency at work and at home, you need to make time management your friend.
Here is an old tried and true way to enhance your productivity at work and at home that is simple, effective and empowering.
The ‘Eisenhower Method’ is said to have been used by former US President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Using the method, tasks are evaluated using the criteria of ‘urgent/not urgent’ and ‘important/not important’, and then placed in allocated quadrants in the Eisenhower Decision Matrix (see below).
This time management process answers the questions of “what task should I do first?”, “how much time should I allocate to this task?” and “will doing this task help me to reach my end goal?”
Allocating your tasks at the beginning of the week (and again at the beginning of each day if necessary) to the correct quadrant (square) will help to inform your time planning and increase your level of productivity, positivity and control over your life.
Here is how the Eisenhower Method works:
- Focus on these tasks first
- These tasks are your top priority
- Deadlines that cannot be missed
- Tasks that have been left to the last minute that can’t wait any longer.
Quadrant #2: Urgent but not important
- Items here are stopping you from getting your important work done but none-the-less they must get completed
- Try hard to delegate these to others if you possibly can
- Don’t spend too much time on them – process quickly and move on.
Quadrant #3: Not urgent but important
- These are the actionable steps vital to your success
- Complete these to reach your goals
- Schedule time in your calendar to do these or they will end up in quadrant #1
- Assign a completion date to each task.
Quadrant #4: Not urgent and not important
- Distractions, distractions, distractions
- Some meetings, some social interactions, trivia
- Other people’s crises (don’t make them yours)
- Simplify, ignore or politely decline the request.
With this simple way of managing your time, you’ll be able to focus more on what is important and prioritise the tasks that will help you to reach your goals and objectives.
At the end of the week, be sure to schedule some time to reflect in your diary. Try and determine what went well and what didn’t. Did you complete your important tasks? What do you need to do to improve next week?
Now, go home and have a worry-free weekend so you can start Monday full of enthusiasm, clarity and focus.
Eisenhower Decision Matrix
NOT URGENT TASKS
Quadrant 1: TOP PRIORITY
URGENT and IMPORTANT
Do these immediately – these might be a crisis, deadlines, problems
Quadrant 3: THIRD PRIORITY
NOT URGENT, but IMPORTANT
Decide when you will do it – put it in your calendar and do it as soon as the priority 1 and 2 jobs are done
Quadrant 2: SECOND PRIORITY
URGENT but NOT IMPORTANT
This is a task that must be done quickly, but not necessarily by you – delegate it to somebody else if possible
Quadrant 4: FOURTH PRIORITY
NOT URGENT, NOT IMPORTANT
Do it later, when priority 1, 2 and 3 jobs are done. Or, not at all. Anything in this quadrant is probably a time waster