The President, the General and the Supreme Commander of NATO.

“Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michaelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.”

― H. Jackson Brown Jr.

Dwight Eisenhower died at the age of 79 and during his life he has done more that you could imagine.

He was the 34th President of the United States, a five-star general in the United States Army , the Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe during World War II, Army Chief of Staff, the president of Columbia University, and the first Supreme Commander of NATO.

He managed to launch programs that developed the Interstate Highway System in the United States, launch the Internet, authorize NASA and the Atomic Energy Act – the agreement of the peaceful use of alternative energy sources.

Still, he didn’t forget to enjoy his time golfing and oil painting.

How did he do it? How did he manage to keep being productive for hours, weeks, months, and even decades?

The answer:

He used a time management system. A system which now, unashamedly, is called the Eisenhower Matrix.

What is time management?

It’s not squeezing in as many tasks as possible, for sure.

It’s about simplifying your work and relieving the pressure, so that at the end of the day you take a well-deserved rest and enjoy your time with people you care about.

I know that there are times that I avoid answering the difficult question: “Do I actually have to do this?” to remain busy rather than face the effort to eliminate a task that I am comfortable with. And the research has shown that nowadays it is a common problem. It’s not the best use of our time, though.

The day has enough hours for everything you’d like to do.

It’s just about rearranging and re-imagining your time.

 

Eisenhower Matrix

As Tim Ferriss says, “Being busy is a form of laziness — lazy thinking and indiscriminate action.”

The Eisenhower Matrix is used by scholars, entrepreneurs, students and, in general, people who want to master their time management, task management and productivity skills.

Want to find out how it works?

Separate your activities between (un)important and (un)urgent ones.

How do you distinguish urgent from insignificant?

Urgent activities need prompt action, and are very often associated with achieving someone else’s goals. They are usually the ones we focus on, because their consequences are immediate.

These could include: responding to emails, phone calls, texts, new stories.

What about important or meaningless actions?

Follow the words of Brett McKay, “Important tasks are things that contribute to our long-term mission, values, and goals.”

Now think about that.

What is your long-term mission?

Is it getting to know a new language? Getting a promotion? Establishing your own company?

Focus on that and prioritize the activities that bring you closer to your goal.

 

Do, Decide, Delegate, Delete

There are 4 easy steps.

Let’s slice and dice each one of them.

Do the tasks that are urgent and important immediately. Things like writing an article.

Decide to reschedule the tasks that are important, but not urgent. This can include exercising, calling with your family and friends, and researching articles.

Delegate tasks that are urgent, but not important. These are tasks that prevent you from achieving your goals. Do you remember the last moment you were totally immersed in your assignment and your colleague asked you for a favour? Respect your time. And values.

Delete tasks that are neither urgent nor important. Avoid activities like checking social media, watching television or sorting through junk mail.

What is in your boxes?

Need any help with managing that?

Apply the 80/20 rule.

 

The 80/20 Rule

This method was named after the Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, who noticed that 80% of income in Italy was gained by 20% of the Italian population.

The outcome is that most of the results come from a small number of causes.

But how should you distinguish 20 percent from 30 or 40 percent?

Well, what if I told you that you don’t have to.

Pareto explains that this is very rough estimation of the percentage. The ratio of 80/20 may be easily converted into a 99/1 rule.

The most crucial thing to understand is the fact that there are certain activities in your life (those 20 percent) that account for the majority of your output and happiness (the 80 percent).

What do I understand by output and happiness?

The output brings you closer to your goals, and helps you accomplish your long-term mission.

In my case it’s writing.

I create content for my company. I write Facebook posts, design maps and brochures, and describe the travelling destinations we go to.

As a hobby I contribute to the content of Why Not 3. I follow the ways of Neil Patel. Where writing an article includes establishing the Core Concept, creating the Ideas, building an Outline, Writing, Editing and, in the end, adding the Bells & Whistles[1]. It’s a great learning process and, with the course of every article, I get to get closer to my long-term mission.

The path of writing an article helps me to master my writing skills and implement this knowledge into the Polish Globetrotters blog, where I share the message of travelling on a student budget.

The activities that I don’t enjoy take much more time and energy from me. The logistic part of the trips are not enjoyable because it takes me ages to arrange the formalities and prepare all documents. Compared to the benefits I get, the inefficiency isn’t worth it.

The 80/20 can be definitely applied to most aspects of your working and business life.

You should focus on happiness and satisfaction. In the end, those are your primary concerns[2].

 

How to achieve your long-term mission?

Plan your goal

Take your time and think what you want to achieve in the next 5 years. Ask yourself:

– What do you want to accomplish until the end of the year?

– What do you have to finish by Friday evening?

 

Now write it down in a SMART way.

SMART Goal Setting is very often attributed to Peter Drucker’s[3] Management by Objectives concept.

SMART stands for:

Specific (simple, sensible, significant)

Measurable (meaningful, motivating)

Achievable (agreed, attainable)

Relevant (reasonable, realistic and resourced, results-based)

Time bound (time-based, time limited, time/cost limited, timely, time-sensitive)

 

Take your time to set your long-term SMART objectives.

 

In my case those include:

By the end of the year I will have worked as a Zumba instructor.

By the end of the year I will have achieved C1 proficiency in German.

By the end of the year I will have get a 1000 Likes on the Polish Globetrotter Fanpage and 1500 on Why not 3 one.

 

Now transfer those long-term objectives into short-term ones.

How can you do it? Setting them in a SMART way.

Let’s focus on the language.

By the end of this year I want to master my German skills. What do I have to do to accomplish that? I take baby-steps.

Don’t throw yourself in the deep end. You will get frustrated, demotivated and burned out.

Divide it into quarters.

Let’s begin there.

First Quarter: In the next 3 months I will have understood German songs.

Second Quarter: In the next 6 months I will have read the news in German.

Third Quarter: In the next 9 months I will have been able to lead a normal conversation.

Final Quarter: In the next 12 months I will have been  (is have been able the right one?) able to lead a business conversation.

How do we achieve the short-terms? By setting tasks.

Task: Listen and translate the albums of Mark Forster and Max Giesinger.

Task: Read one article a day.

Task: Attend the Language Café and move to Germany.

Task: Attend business meetings.

Commit to it. Be resolute. Be professional. Be passionate about it and follow through.

And imagine how the accomplishment of your objectives will look, sound and feel like.

 

Schedule

According to the Entrepreneur there are only three ways to spend time: thoughts, conversations and actions. Bear in mind that 20 percent of your thoughts, conversations and activities contribute to 80 percent of your results[4].

Schedule appointments with yourself; create time boxes for high-priority thoughts, conversations, and actions. And keep to these appointments.

 

Get an early start.

Take the first 10 minutes of your day to plan it.

 

Set the timing.

Don’t laze around thinking that you are doomed to this project until it’s done.

 

Don’t drive yourself into crazy perfectionism.

Think instead that you are going to focus and work on this for the next 2 hours.

 

Have a visibly placed clock before you. This keeps you aware of the passing time.

The time limitation will push you to be more efficient. Even if it means that you would have to go back and improve it later.

 

Remember your deadlines.

Mark them, so that you know when you need to finish your tasks.

 

Get to know which method works the best for you.

Do you like working under time pressure? Or do you prefer giving yourself time before the deadline?

For example, my best friend has a tendency to send her applications an hour before the final deadline. She always gets it in.

Find out your way and take advantage of it.

 

Use Google Calendar.

Let me show you how mine looks like?

 

My Daily Tasks

Use colors if you like. I do.

Green boxes are the ones connected to my development. Language, writing skills and overall knowledge.

Blue is the color of my company. Then, the tasks are ordered by my manager and my role is to complete the most important task first. When I finish the most crucial ones, I can move on to other things.

Red-ish symbolizes my “me-time”. This is the time I take a rest, have a chat with my colleagues, dance the stress away, play some ukulele and have a conversation with my best friend.

 

Turn your key tasks into habits.

I acquired a manner of waking up early and starting my day with a batch of German words.

It became my positive daily routine that is the natural and enjoyable part of my day[5].

 

Leave downtime between your tasks

After ticking of this task box, wait for a second.

Breath, take a look what you’ve done and appreciate it.

Allow yourself for a mini break to recharge and refocus.

That’s the best way to tackle the undertaking that is at either end of the spectrum – either too difficult or too easy. Use short breaks to reward yourself and keep going. It could be some drinks, some food, a conversation, playing with your dog, or a brisk walk.

 

Take advantage of your waiting time

Draft an article in a subway, train or a bus.

Make calls during your drive to work.

Catch up with news waiting at the boarding gate before the flight.

Read a book on the treadmill.

Listen to German, Spanish or French songs while you bike and practice your language skills.

Watch a TEDx speech whilst brushing your teeth.

Study for your economics exam in a waiting room.

We tend to complain about time we waste at the doctors, during transportation or in governmental institutions. Don’t. Once again, take advantage of it.

 

Focus

Forget about multitasking.

The most recent neuroscience research proves that we are not as awesome at multitasking as we thought we were.

Our brain doesn’t perform the tasks simultaneously. It rather switches the stop/start button between them.

Rather than saving time, it costs us energy[6].

Focus on one key task at a time.

 

Block out distractions.

Put your phone away, out of your sight and on flight mode. Try not to answer calls or e-mails.

You don’t have to immediately devote your attention to people, unless it’s unquestionably important in your business.

Set a time to respond to them.

Close off your time wasters. Stop checking your Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram or email. Pin them off from your bookmarks.

If you use them for generating your business, schedule the updates. You don’t have to have your attention continuously dragged by them.

 

Identify anything that drains your time and energy. These could include technology, workflow, systems or people.

And take them, one by one. Try to fix, change, or address them to get more time[7].

 

Value your time, and people around you will do the same.

Learn to say “no”.

You don’t have to take part in every project, help your colleague in every second task or go to clubs every Thursday.

At one point you need to reject some of the offers and decline the opportunities.

Focus on the commitments you know you will find time for and you truly care about.

 

Create a system.

Store your document in one place. Name and mark them.

Use an organizer. Manage your projects, to-do lists, information and other miscellaneous items.

Unsubscribe from the email lists you don’t care about.

Batch related tasks together. First write your 3 essays, and then make 2 videos. Don’t juggle different tasks. Allow your mind to focus on the current zone instead.

 

Let the time management apps help you out.

Use an egg Timer to count down the time[8].

Set your goals, check your productivity reports and weekly summary emails, and block the sites to maximise your productivity with RescueTime.

Track your time management with the help of Toggl or Yast.

Consider Hootsuite or Buffer to manage your social media accounts.

Save engaging articles with Feedly, Pocket, or Evernote and read them later on.

Store your passwords on LastPass, where you can secure and keep tabs of all your confidential information.

Work with templates for all assignments created in the same way. Use them for your presentations, spreadsheets, emails or articles.

The system will manage your time and boost your productivity[9].

 

Remember that enjoyment is the goal. Work could be play.

“People who end up as ‘first’ don’t actually set out to be first. They set out to do something they love.”

Condoleezza Rice, former U.S. Secretary of State

 

Don’t get caught by your agenda so much that you forget to truly enjoy what you do.

Spend more time appreciating what you’re working on.

This could sound like a pipe dream. I used to think that work is about earning money. And that’s it. You go to your job, you do what you have to do, you earn money and then, afterhours you might enjoy your time on spending it.

At this point I’ve performed various jobs. I used to pick fruits, I worked in the kitchen, as a waitress, as a hostess of Sushi Burritos… Once, during my travels, completely broke, I even found a cleaning position offer, which saved my travelling budget.

The goal used to be simple: To earn money. That’s it.

Well, not exactly.

When I moved to a new city I struggled finding a job. In one restaurant I was kicked out after an hour, because I messed up an order.

My goal changed. People changed me. Their stories, their passion, and their outlooks.

I joined Venture Café – the place where every Thursday a bunch of cool people meet: entrepreneurs, students, investors, start-ups… That’s the spot where I had some of the most engaging conversations in my life.

My closest people are the greatest inspiration to me. Talks with my boyfriend, best friend or my parents keep me going and make me strive for more.

Right now I work at a company that organizes student-budget trips.

What do I do there?

I travel, write, talk with partners. I totally follow my passion and every day brings more excitement.

Once again, find out what you enjoy the most, start doing it, master and enjoy it.

Also take time to rest.

Find your getaway.

Implement the Silent Day into your calendar.

Take breaks during your weekend, and enjoy your time with your loved ones.

Stay present in the moment. Don’t think about your concerns at work or your tasks for tomorrow. Enjoy, right here right now.

Action and inaction should both play key roles in our lives. Discovering time in your life for silence and non-motion reduces anxiety and shows you that there is no need to constantly rush. It also makes it easier to find your work pleasurable[10].

 

Conclusion

Time management is about simplifying your work and relieving your pressure, so that at the end of the day you’re able to take a well-deserved rest and enjoy your time with people you care about.

Follow the Eisenhower Matrix to do things that contribute to your mission, decide when to spend time on important but not urgent activities, delegate the ones that prevent you from achieving your goal and delete the time-wasters.

Plan your goals and schedule tasks that are aligned towards it, focus on them and remember to enjoy your well-managed time and the outcomes.

 

Do you have other time management hacks?

Let me know!

 

Thank you,

Weronika Naklicka,

Premium Blogger of Why not 3

 

Sources:

[1] Neil Patel. Neil Patel. n.d. https://neilpatel.com/blog/improve-your-writing/.

[2] Yaro Starak. Entrepreneurs Journey. n.d. https://www.entrepreneurs-journey.com/397/80-20-rule-pareto-principle/.

[3] Drucker, Peter. Mind Tools. n.d. https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/smart-goals.htm.

[4] Entrepreneur. n.d. https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/219553.

[5] Jordan Bates. Refine the Mind. 2012. http://www.refinethemind.com/focus-and-be-productive/

[6] Nancy K. Napier. Psychology Today. 2014. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/creativity-without-borders/201405/the-myth-multitasking.

[7] Frances Booth. Forbes. n.d. forbes.com/sites/francesbooth/2014/06/19/productivity-tips/#2e0226c331a3

[8] Leon Ho. Lifehack. 2017. http://www.lifehack.org/articles/featured/20-quick-tips-for-better-time-management.html

[9] Larry Kim. Inc. 2015. https://www.inc.com/larry-kim/23-best-productivity-hacks-of-the-year.html.

[10] Dr.Rajan Pandey. „The Book of Life: A Journey of Self-Discovery.” Notion Press, 2016.

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