Which box is fun in? You don't have to put everything into one of the four boxes, although everything WILL be in one of the four, it must be. Box 3 can be doing things ahead of time as well as planning them. Fun can be found in all of the boxes if you try, but mainly it's important, and not urgent. Planning ahead can improve the quality of your life if you plan more fun into it.
- I showed Eisenhower's four box matrix of important tasks and urgent tasks to a managing director on a course once, and he said, I love it, I'm gonna divide my desk into four quadrants, and when papers come in I'm gonna put them in the right places. And I was thinking, well, I'm glad he likes it, but that wasn't what I was saying, really. I don't think you should spend time agonizing over, is it a one or a two? But instead, the model is really about the concept of box three, doing tasks that are important before they become urgent.
Be a box three person working in a box three organization and find ways to spend more time in box three. Realize that urgent things are only twos. They aren't really important. And work out how to spend as little time as possible in box one, because if you're in there, you've failed. That's what the model is about, understanding the objectives of time management and realizing that box one looks better than box three, but it isn't. Rushing around, being late for meetings may look macho and exciting, but it's really just a sign of bad management.
And sitting at your desk thinking may look as if you don't have enough to do, but in fact it means you're ahead of the game, and that's great. But what about the argument that there's more to life than planning and getting ahead of the game? What about fun? Someone once accused me of putting my whole life into boxes and said he thought that that was a bit sad. You do all this planning, and what about just having some fun for a change, he said. Hmm, I thought to myself, good point. I think I need to analyze fun.
So which box do you think fun is in? Well, it's important, that's for sure, and it's probably not urgent, I must have fun now. So it's in box three then, which I'm pleased about, because I've been saying that everything that matters is in box three. For example, I sometimes meet up with friends and have a meal out in an Indian restaurant, and it's always great, and everyone always says, we should do this more often, but somehow we just don't get around to organizing it.
A little bit more box three planning time would increase the enjoyment of all of our lives. So box three can make you happier. It's not just about work and results. Fun could be in box one as well. Take the moment while it's there. Say your four-year-old son wants to play football. You can't say, well, I'm a bit busy on my emails right now, but I can book you in at 7:30 for 10 minutes. And fun can be in box two, making the most of chores, and in box four, slobbing out on the sofa eating donuts and watching a rubbish film on TV.
But really, mainly, it's in box three. Relaxing and doing the things that you enjoy is important. So my model isn't against fun, it's pro-fun, both in terms of enjoying all of the boxes where possible and in terms of spending the maximum time in box three. So as well as planning and thinking, do you get enough time in box three doing the things that you want to do? What would you like to spend more time on that might require a bit of planning ahead in order to make it happen?
The first—saying no—is simple in theory, but hard in practice. Chris explains how to reclaim the power of "no" to make room for true priority items. The second step, negotiation, allows you to spend less time on unimportant tasks. The third way is to delegate sometimes, and the fourth is improving systems and processes so that repetitive tasks are quickly and easily managed. Last but not least, Chris explains how to overcome perfectionism and nitpicking. He explains how to apply the five methods to all time-stealers, including meetings, interruptions, and more.
In the initial chapters, he'll help you clarify your life and work goals, prioritize to-dos using Eisenhower's matrix of tasks, and answers questions like "Does working longer hours actually get more done?" The worksheets included with the exercise files will help you apply the lessons to your own work and life, and hone your time management skills—one step at a time.
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- Discover why you need to make the most of every day.
- Assess how to separate important from urgent items.
- Define Eisenhower's matrix of tasks.
- Determine how to find more time for important things.
- Discover how to say no.
- Prepare to negotiate tasks.
- Develop your delegation skills to save time.
- Improve your systems.