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25 May

An hour here, an hour there


Datum: 2011-05-25 12:45

As you might be aware of, there is a method for how to cor­rect­ly pri­or­i­tize when cat­e­go­riz­ing tasks that you have to do by con­sid­er­ing both how urgent they are and how impor­tant they are.

And since I have already told you of how to do this in more detail in a pre­vi­ous struc­tur­al tip, I will not go deep­er into that here and now. Let me just say that the cat­e­go­ry tasks which are impor­tant but not urgent” are those which we tend to post­pone, over and over again.

Sure­ly, you have one or sev­er­al things which would sim­ply be so nice to have done, but since they are not a press­ing mat­ter, there nev­er seems to be time left over to do them.

It often has to do with things which influ­ence the orga­ni­za­tion pos­i­tive­ly in the long run, and will bear fruit first after some time has elapsed. Even if it would be very valu­able for your busi­ness if it was fin­ished, time seems to pass nonetheless.

Half a day left over, anyone?”

The solu­tion is sim­ply to set aside time in the cal­en­dar for this type of assign­ments. If they nonethe­less are so exten­sive that you can­not do them in one go (since you would have com­plet­ed them by now if they were small enough, right?), I also think you should frag­men­tize them into small­er parts which you can com­plete one at a time. 

Since, let’s face it, the day won’t come when you auto­mat­i­cal­ly sud­den­ly have half a day left over and no urgent-tasks” which calls for your atten­tion (and no e‑mails to reply to, and no oth­er tasks you should have com­plet­ed yesterday).

If you dei­cide to work in a struc­tured and sys­tem­at­ic man­ner, it will get done.

Do this

  1. Choose a task with the char­ac­ter­is­tic impor­tant, but not urgent”. If you have sev­er­al of these, only select one. Fin­ish it accord­ing to the steps out­lined below and then move on to the next task.
  2.  
  3. Make an esti­ma­tion of how much time is required to com­plete the task.
  4. Deter­mine how small the frag­ments you need to split the task into should be. Two hours at a time? An hour? Half an hour? Split­ting it into small­er parts than half-hour-seg­ments will, as I see it, cost more than it tastes.
  5. If the task is on today’s to-do-list, move it to your project overview instead. There should only be tasks which you can do in one go on the to-do-list, that is, things which you can decide to do at once, com­plete and then be done with. Since you would need to split the assign­ment into pieces, it is not a to-do-task, but rather a project, even if it is a small one.
  6. In your cal­en­dar, sched­ule as many appoint­ments as you need to reach the total expect­ed time need­ed to com­plete the work. Does it require 8 half-hours spread out over a two week peri­od? Is it six half-days dur­ing three months?
  7. And final­ly, here is the most crit­i­cal step, the drop that could make the glass flow over, the crux of the mat­ter, well, go ahead and pick your own favorite metaphor. I rarely prop­a­gate strict dis­ci­pline, but if there ever was a time when you need to be your own, firm boss, this is it.

Once you have sched­uled a time to do the impor­tant task, try to the great­est extend pos­si­ble not to budge. Regard it as any appoint­ment or meet­ing, except that now you are the only one you are meet­ing with. 

I have heard myself answer Sure, that should be fine” to a request regard­ing a meet­ing too many times, even though I had work-alone-with-an-impor­tant-task-time sched­uled at then. Don’t make that mistake. 

If some­thing urgent and unex­pect­ed still would occur when you have booked time with your­self, at least make sure to move the planned hour to anoth­er day. Do not just remove it, but make sure to main­tain the total num­ber of hours you have agreed with your­self to use when com­plet­ing the task in the cal­en­dar, so that you can be sure the whole project or task is completed.

Get to it

If you do this, you will even­tu­al­ly com­plete all those impor­tant tasks you have been pro­cras­ti­nat­ing for too long. Just imag­ine all the con­struc­tive and pos­i­tive con­se­quences this will have for your busi­ness in the long run. 

It is worth try­ing, wouldn’t you say?

Did this work out for you?

If you try this method, feel free to leave a com­ment and tell me and oth­er read­ers what the effect of it was for you.

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