Many of us are at least fairly skilled with prioritizing tasks throughout the day, so one way or another, the most important stuff gets done. But what about the less-important duties that get ignored and procrastinated about, despite the fact they need to get finished, too? It can certainly be a struggle to find the time and motivation for things deemed not very important, but there are several things you can do to make progress in finishing those necessities.
Get Familiar With the Eisenhower Matrix
The Eisenhower Matrix is a visual diagram used to prioritize tasks into four quadrants: Those that are both urgent and important, those that are not urgent but important, those that are urgent but not important and, finally, tasks that are neither urgent nor important. Going on social media to scroll through your feed is an example of a task that would fall into the last category. On the other hand, building relationships with others is one example of something that’s important, but not urgent, because it’s usually a quality-based intention and not a time-sensitive one.
Experiment by visualizing your tasks with this matrix and see if that helps you get a better idea of what really matters in life. It may make it easier to see where time’s being wasted, which could open up more hours in a day to tackle tasks of lower importance.
Use the 1-3-5 List-Building Tool
Perhaps the reason you’re finding it hard to get the less-important things checked off your list is because you’re overwhelmed looking at your entire to-do list at once and can’t even imagine where to get started. In that case, the 1-3-5 list-builder can help. It’s a tool that works on mobile devices and web browsers and helps you break down big lists into a total of nine tasks per day: One large task, three medium ones and five small ones.
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Some people get so caught up in analyzing their lists of priorities they never actually take enough action to accomplish very much. It’s a common problem, so you’re not alone if you can relate. However, the 1-3-5 list-making tool offers a practical way to turn intentions into results.
Set Aside Small, Dedicated Blocks of Time Towards Undesirable Duties
It can be especially challenging if a not-very-important task is also very mundane, unpleasant or otherwise causes you to feel upset. When trying to take care of tasks that have such bad associations linked with them, decide you’ll only devote small segments of time towards getting them done. However, it’s important to schedule those blocks of time frequently enough so they’re effective in helping you get everything done. Plus, you’ll need to focus solely on such tasks during the time you’ve set aside.
For example, maybe you hate cleaning out your inbox because it’s just easier to keep an eye on the things you haven’t read, but have noticed that approach makes it hard to find things colleagues sent you a few weeks ago. Set a timeframe for making your inbox more manageable, and then stick to it.
When it’s really hard to get motivated, try doing the task in 10-minute blocks. Listening to music or challenging yourself to turn the responsibility into a game and see how many emails you can categorize or delete within that time frame are just two of several strategies you could try to take your mind off the perceived drudgery and get the duty done instead.
Besides using the practical tips described above, it’s worthwhile to do some soul-searching and determine whether there are sources of internal conflict that make it so you’re unable to carry certain tasks out completely, or even get started on them. Fear of failing, feelings of ineptitude and an unwillingness to delegate things to others or accept help when needed could all be preventing you from being maximally productive.
However, it’s always possible to make positive changes that last. Showing a desire to do so is the first meaningful step towards better prioritizing, and the suggestions you’ve just read could help you reach your goal.
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Also published on Medium.