The world is moving at such a fast pace these days that there is always information being passed around, be it from bosses, clients, family, friends, acquaintances, etc. down to you. So many things vying for our time and energy. What do you do about this? How do you monitor and manage your time? Set priorities, right? Good.

While setting the right priorities, be careful not to fall into the “urgency trap”. Phone calls, emails, text messages, we get usually make things seem so fast-paced. We want to do everything right here, right now, thus hurrying and getting in a fix every time.

What can you do? How can you determine what is important?

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Divide up your tasks into the following 4 groups:

  • Crisis: Important and Urgent
  • Planning, Preparation and Prevention: Important but Not Urgent
  • Trivial Work: Urgent but Not Important
  • Time Wasters: Not Urgent and Not Important

Everything seems to be important but in fact they aren’t. Put them against the 4 groups and decide what action to take. Setting priorities must be a priority for you. If you find yourself living in the Crisis category most of the time, your productivity will weaken and you will quite simply just burn out. It’s unsustainable. The only way out is to focus on what you can do to plan for, prepare and prevent the kinds of things that force you to operate in a crisis. When the crisis does occur, you’ll be equipped to handle it and move on much more easily.

Don’t stress yourself over activities you eventually find out fall into the last category. Leave them for when you are less busy.

When faced with an impending deadline, an angry customer you need to placate right now, rushing over to work, or solve a problem, ask yourself the following questions:

  • “What could be done to prevent this from happening in the future?”
  • “What can I learn to make this easier next time?”
  • “Whose support or assistance needs to be involved?”
  • “What could occur in the future, and how can I anticipate it and plan to respond?

When you have the right answers to these questions, you will find out that automatically you will find yourself trying to keep yourself from having to rush and that you will help you focus on the important tasks. It is the end of the month, look at the resources at your disposal and decide which will help you develop habits to consistently focus on your key priorities. When you do so, and eventually settle into a routine and already develop the habits and skills to focus on your key priorities, accomplish greater results, reduce your stress and master the use of your time.

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