Ok so first of all Im going to state the obvious….if you haven’t read part 1, then read that first before reading this. For those of you that have read part 1 Im hoping you have had a chance to play with the wheel of life tool and evaluate your work-life balance. If so then you might have decided that you need to start freeing up some time to do more of things in life that bring you joy, whatever they may be.
I certainly did but was immediately hit by the dreaded TIME BARRIER! My life was already pretty busy so I couldn’t see how I was going to be able to fit anything else in. Then a friend of mine told me about another tool I could use to help me free up more time. I had read about it before but hadn’t yet put it into practice. I can’t remember why I hadn’t. I expect at the time I thought I didn’t need it, however when my friend reminded me about it, this time I was a lot more open to trying it out. The tool appears to have several names, the Urgent V Important Matrix, the Time Management Matrix, however I have adapted it slightly so I have given it a new name.
I give you ‘The Activity Punnet Square’
The idea of the diagram above is that each of the activities that occupy your week can be classified in two ways: in terms of how important they are and how urgent they are.
Important tasks should obviously take priority. However, often we neglect our important tasks. For example, exercise is important for everyone but so many of us neglect it because we say we don’t have time. Although how many of us have used that excuse before but still managed to find time to flick through a magazine or watch a trashy TV show that didn’t really give us any real fulfilment or enjoyment.
The importance of an activity is determined by your values and your goals. For me activities like spending time with family, catching up with friends, exercising, and going to the cinema are all important to me as they bring me health and happiness. Work is also important as it puts food on the table, puts a roof over my head and funds much of my fun and recreation. However, not all of my work is important. Beginning to recognise what areas of my work were important and which were not important did two things for me. Firstly it increased my productivity. Secondly it gave me more time because I stopped doing things that weren’t important.
Now don’t get me wrong. I still find myself every now and then doing something that isn’t important and I have to consciously tell myself to stop what Im doing and start doing something that is important. So the idea is to regularly do all the things that are important in your life so they don’t become urgent, and don’t do anything that is not important whether it is urgent or not.
In the top right hand box write down all the activities that are important to you and must be done regularly and make them your priority. Write them in your diary, on your calendar or whatever system you use to organise your life. Doing them regularly will keep them from becoming urgent. Now of course urgent tasks that are important will still pop up periodically that have to be dealt with immediately but the more time you spend on none urgent activities that are important to you the less likely it is that an urgent task will pop up.
I am also aware that some tasks are important but aren’t necessarily enjoyable i.e cleaning the house. I don’t enjoy it but it has to be done regularly. If it isn’t done regularly then it eventually becomes an urgent important task. We don’t want this. Urgent important tasks create stress. So when it comes to important tasks we don’t like we have two choices; We either suck it up and get on with it anyway; plan it in to our schedules and get it done so it never becomes an urgent task or the other choice we have is to pay someone else to do it. Personally Im a strong advocate of the latter!! Tasks that we don’t like we generally aren’t very good at either so why not pay someone else who is good at the task, which will then free up more time for you to do something important that you enjoy.
Try to get into the habit of evaluating tasks by their importance. If you don’t think the task is important then don’t do it.
If it is important then make sure you plan do do them regularly so they don’t become urgent.
Let me know how you get on with this one folks 🙂