Put The First Things First: Action Items

The truth about action items and to-do-list is most of the time things simply don’t get done. 

You are called away to put out fires, you need a restroom break, coffee, or a mental break, and before you know it, it's 5:15 and you still have not taken action on those action items. 

You could scramble to finish them but when did scrambling ever produce the “best” results? 

Now, the action that was so important it landed on your “action item” list, is now the first thing you do tomorrow. But who knows what tomorrow will bring?

When I stumbled on Stephen Covey’s time management model or better known to some as ‘The Eisenhower Matrix,' I thought to myself, “Oh, here is another productivity tip that will be a chore to carry out.” I was wrong. 

It's about putting the first things first. 

Let’s face it, as your typical work day pushes towards late afternoon, you begin to lose your will to work and maybe your will to even keep your eyes open (I recommend 15 min naps). But if you took care of the most important things first you could step away, run errands, or do anything to catch your second wind without the burden of things left undone. 

Covey’s model breaks down like this: 

Block one: “urgent and important,” means do it now. Your projects that are on deadlines or a health issue that you keep putting off, an upcoming presentation that needs research and prep time. Look at it like this, the more you waver on these things, the more you think about them. That time thinking or obsessing could have been put towards doing.

Block two: “important but not urgent” (decide when to do it, schedule it). These items have a stake in your future but are not impacting today. These items have a 30-day deadline. You can place your Facebook Online Marketing course here or the Introduction to Coding course you've been wanting to take in this quadrant.  

Block three: “urgent but not important.” Checking your GoDaddy automatic upcoming renewals, pre-scheduling social media post, washing clothes, and checking your P.O Box. These items can be done by your spouse, friend, or virtual assistant. Decide to offload, so these tasks are off your mind. 

Block four:  “not urgent, not important.” These are to-do items you should completely drop. They are not inline with your “why.” They are not advancing you. They don’t have a negative impact on you what so ever. For me, this includes organizing apps on my iPhone, color-coding my closet (what? I think about this and it lands on my to-do list from time to time), or even running constant diagnostics on my computer. 

The biggest shortcut to mastering anything worth doing is to hold your “why” firmly in your mind. Otherwise, you could be pushing your dreams into tomrrow. 

How does your time management quadrants stack up? What is “urgent and important,” why?