Happy New Year Eveyone! In Asia, this is the year of the snake. Snakes are a symbol of healing and change. Just as the snake loses it’s old skin and renews itself, we also have the magical ability to choose our destiny and change our life.
This is the time of the year to make new resolutions. These are things that we decide to do to change our lives for the better. And then we get to work on them right away.
My New Year’s Resolution is to be more efficient and effective in my work. And if you are like me, you are probably a pretty busy person. So in order to be effective, you have to manage your time. You just can’t do everything you want to do each day. You have to make priorities. But what’s the best way to do that?
Stephen Covey, the author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, gives us a great method for prioritizing our time and being productive. He calls for breaking up our daily tasks into four groups. Here’s a picture:
Group 1 is for tasks that are urgent and important. These are all the things that must be done right away, like medical emergencies or project deadlines.
Group 2 is for tasks that are not urgent, but are important. These are things like exercising, spending time with friends and family, and learning a new skill or taking a course to advance your career.
Group 3 is for tasks that are urgent, but not important. These could also be called distractions. Examples would be picking up the phone while working, checking your Facebook or Twitter updates, or responding to text messages on your cell phone.
Group 4 is for tasks that are not urgent and not important. These are things like playing video games, reading the news, watching TV, etc.
So those are the four groups for time management. But how do we best use them? Well, most “busy” people spend all of their time on tasks in Groups 1 and 3, and almost no time on tasks in Group 2. This is a mistake, because it is the activities in Group 2 that build your future and your quality of life. So in fact, in order to be most effective, you need to spend as much time as possible in Group 2.
Now, some people might ask, “How do I spend more time in Group 2 when I’m overwhelmed by tasks in Groups 1 and 3? Well, there is no easy solution. But one thing some people do is work on a task in Group 2 first thing in the morning, before they get to the tasks in Group 1. Others try to finish everything in Group 1 as quickly as possible, and then move onto Group 2 tasks.
Whatever method you choose, one thing is for sure: in order to accomplish your long term goals of happiness and success, you must find a way to spend more time on the things that are important, but not urgent, and spend less time on things that are not important, but that seem urgent. This is the key point to remember.
Try it now. Make a list of everything that needs to be done today and this week. Then decide which group it goes into. Then see if you can finish the tasks in Group 1, while spending as much time on tasks in Group 2 and less time on tasks in Group 3. And if you get a chance, relax a little on a task in Group 4, which is important for balancing your day.
And by the way, into which group would improving your English speaking be? If it’s really important to you, then it would definitely fall into Group 2. This means that you’ve got to make time for it each day in order to get the benefits of becoming a better, more confident English speaker.