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25 May

An hour here, an hour there


Date: 2011-05-25 12:45 Comments: 0 st

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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