Time for a fresh approach!
The Eisenhower Decision Principle (based on the philosophy of President Eisenhower) has been on my mind since reading about it last week. I believe understanding the difference between urgent and important tasks could be a great tool for improving time management skills and finding focus for self improvement.
What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important.
Urgent tasks are the activities that we put on our to-do lists. Things like medical appointments and car services but also cleaning and other household tasks. Other people can also make urgent demands on us (often via technology). We can lose hours, days, weeks and years to urgent tasks without any sense of achievement. Western society encourages this state of non-stop urgency with its invasive advertising, culture of deadlines and have-it-all mentality.
Important tasks are those activities which contribute to our personal development, values and long term goals. Do we include enough of these on our to-do lists? Maybe we should have a separate to-be list. To be happy with less, be fit and be able to have time for ourselves and others.
There's plenty of information available on the subject and the basic idea is easy to understand. As well as helping us decide what's important over what's urgent the Eisenhower matrix has 2 more categories which can further help us identify which activities take up our time but don't contribute to our personal values or long term goals.
In week 4 I'm going to aim to use the Eisenhower matrix to help me identify how to make progress in the 4 areas of the project whilst also hopefully keeping everything else going.
Urgent and important tasks: Household chores, work and tasks linked to my youngest son. Household chores need to be done but in week 4 I'm going to set limits on how much time I spend on them. The ironing basket can be halved instead of emptied, the grocery shop can be done after work instead of on my day off (I did this in week 3 and it saved me lots of time) and the family can share some of the cleaning, tidying, cooking and ironing. Coming home after work on Friday to hear my husband vacuuming was a wonderful gift and I'm grateful that I didn't have to ask him to do this. This week my youngest son needs my attention. I can't avoid taking him for a dental check-up for his brace, keeping watch on his GCSE revision timetable or helping him choose a suitable and budget friendly outfit for his prom. All of this takes time and energy. Working extra hours could lead me into overdrive so I need to take time to be more mindful during the day. Taking breaks and chatting with colleagues helps as does setting limits on how many hours I spend on preparation and marking.
Important but not urgent tasks: Walking, running, meditating, decluttering, healthy eating and time for fun. Yes, I've discovered The Welcome to Now Project is all about making time for important activities that contribute to self improvement and long term happiness. As these are non urgent tasks they often get overlooked which can lead us to feeling frustrated that we're making slow progress with personal goals or that we can't afford to spend time on ourselves or have enough time for friends and family. In week 4 I'll use some of my time on my days off (I'm working 31/2 days this week) for a longer run, a few hours decluttering in the loft and spending time with Mum. Meditation and walks might not happen daily but I'll fit them in when I can. I'll maintain my commitment to eating less sugar and more fruit and veg but without being obsessive. At the weekend I'll set limits on chores and make more time for fun. We've got plans to visit an open garden event and attend Leamington Peace Festival.
Urgent and not important tasks: These are the unexpected demands that crop up daily from family, friends, colleagues and other sources. Our teenagers are great at this. Can I say no this week?
Not urgent and not important: I'm going to be mindful of when and why I seek distractions. I'm skilled at procrastinating with most things and capable of losing hours to online frippery.
In brief here's an outline of my plans for the 4 areas of The Welcome to Now Project for week 4.
The-once-and-for-all-declutter. I hope to clear more clutter from the loft and organise the area better.
Be Fabulous. I'm going to fit in a longer run of 45 minutes and enjoy running through the countryside.
Finding Focus. I'd like to find time to reflect on what I've learnt from the project and how it could be followed up.
Try Something New. Find new places to visit or walk at the weekend. I'm also reading a new book which I'm loving.
My aim in this project was to be accountable to you in order to maintain my focus, be honest and to learn from the experience.
Through repeated resolve to make time for now by managing our physical and emotional health I believe we can follow our dreams.
Thank you for keeping me up to date with your progress as you follow along with The Welcome to Now Project. Thank you to all of you. I'd love to hear your news.
I can't wait to reflect on the project next week.
Well done on any progress in week 3 and here's to your continued success xo