Life is full of meaningful moments, moments when you connect with others and achieve your personal and professional goals. Between those moments, the rest of life happens: the commute, the checkout line, the small talk about celebrities or sports, and the other trivial things that rush in to fill time that you don’t fill yourself. If you’ve been feeling insignificant, under-appreciated, or stressed, your priorities may be out of balance.
For years, the FranklinPlanner system has promoted the Time Matrix chart, a construction that lets you divide your daily tasks and actions based on urgency and importance. Quadrant I is where Important and Urgent tasks intersect. The more time you spend on these tasks, the higher your stress level.
Quadrant II is where the meaningful moments reside. Your most important and productive actions happen when you stay ahead of deadlines and focus on what matters most.
Quadrant III combines the constant pressure with little importance, for a truly frustrating experience. People who spend a lot of time in Quadrants I and III often end up spending the rest in Quadrant IV, trying to ease the burnout with entertainment while passing the time until the next deadline.
So how can changing your plans help you get into the sweet spot of completing your important tasks before urgency strikes? Consider a weekly planning session before your week starts. Review your top priorities, such as upcoming work projects and events in your personal life. Visualize how you’d like each to play out, and then write the corresponding tasks on each day in your planner.
Inevitably, some work projects, emails, and meetings will be urgent and out of your control. But you can plan ahead on the projects you control directly, spreading them out and delegating as needed before they become urgent. Then when the fires crop up, putting them out won’t push your normal work into your personal time.
Sometimes, adjusting your life means deciding on whether something is truly important to you, or whether you’re trying to live up to someone else’s expectations. As you evaluate each task, ask yourself which priority it fulfills for you, or for those around you. Completing tasks for the sole reason of pleasing others tends to be unfulfilling. When you plan your important tasks first, you end up with the satisfaction of completing them.