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Deciding What Is Actually Important

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.

Time MatrixFor 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.

64 Replies to “Deciding What Is Actually Important”

  1. I have adjusted my work and home schedule to increase my study time. As of today it has not worked out, because of the past snow storm. I had to stay at work for 24 hours, and I have worked 6 days in a row . I\’m happy to say everything is back to normal.

  2. I can plan my schedule for the week so I won\’t end up stressing and struggling to complete my assignments. In planning my schedule set so many hours to study and time to complete all assignments. I will not complete task so it will be pleasing for others. The task that I do will be for me.

  3. I love the part about \”completing certain task for the sole reason of pleasing others.\” I tend to struggle with this as it relates to non-family members. My goal is to correct it immediately! I will also work to not engage in meaningless conversations.

  4. I have so many things that need to be done. I need to prioritize my work. This may free up wasted time that I am constantly using.

  5. I plan my schedule to complete my assignments then unplanned tasks I did not anticipate arises and takes my time away. I try to schedule time a block at a time, and with distractions I have to reschedule. I am dealing with the limited time I have and sometime I do things unscheduled just to readjust from the scheduled time that I could not use.

    1. .I have set days and time to work on my assignments. I use have music to help me keep my focus. Classical music helps me concentrate better than other music

  6. I try to not engage into idle conversations because it slows me down from what needs to get accomplished. My life is very busy and even though I do like to communicate with people and have fun, I try to priorities what is more important.

  7. I try to not engage into idle conversations because it slows me down from what needs to get accomplished. My life is very busy and even though I do like to communicate with people and have fun, I try to priorities what is more important.

  8. I normally plan everything way in advance, which I normally keep a monthly calender and I try on taking care of the matter prior to the date of the actual event. Thats one thing that the military showed me and thats time management and prioritizing.

  9. I plan out my schedule within a week ..i mostly leave to weekend to relax or catchup on certain family issues/ personal life. I do need to get a little better with time management and procrastination throughout the week.

  10. I have never planned out my daily schedule, this will all be new to me, I’m looking forward to not stressing over time. I plan to start scheduling my weeks out for better time management.

  11. I have a planner that I record important dates and events in so I don’t forget. I never keep up with the amount of time it takes to finish or complete activities on my list, but keeping a time management sheet would definitely help allocate time to other areas of interest or need.

  12. I have never scheduled my week. I have always just done things through out the day and hope to get everything done in time before I go to sleep. But I might have to start scheduling my week.

  13. I’m learning that I need a planner and a weekly plan to stay on schedule. I will dedicate my time more appropriately, giving myself the amount of time for each class.

  14. I have constructed a plan where in the mornings I do as much as I can as far as my schooling. I make sure my phone is not interfering and my other priorities are already token care of. Then I stop at a certain time and focus on the other areas, then return to my remedial tasks a hand. So far this has proven quite effective.

  15. it’s so much easier having your week planned out versus going day by day. Although being in the military it’s hard to plan out a week’s work without something changing. So using my time wisely has been a key factor for my success.

  16. I have never thought of scheduling my daily activities but this is something that will give a try. Hopefully it will make the week go by more smoothly.

  17. i actually keep a budget planner and also a monthly/weekly calendar/scheduler and I use it faithfully! I even went ahead and bought these really cool budget books and calendar books that have stickers and cute little post it packs to make my scheduling almost like scrapbooking. It is alot of fun to get into my calendar and write things in, and the same goes for the budgeting! I actually look forward to digging into that schedule!

  18. The burnout often places me in quadrant four in the evenings and weekend mornings. I think I need to plan better in order to not feel overwhelmed

  19. I have always been able to plan ahead, time management has never been a problem for me, however, I always got the quadrant 1 and 11 mixed up and applied them interchangeably to suit my needs. My meaningful moments reside on my Saturdays, the day is spent mostly with family for pleasure/entertainment. This exercise is an eye opener for me, some things need to be shifted around

  20. I keep a planner all the time. it helps me out immensely. I also try to update my reminders in my phone once a week so it will set an alarm for important things like an appointment, or an assignment. I also use it for my customers who are on vacation leave. the reminders help me to know when to redeliver their mail.

  21. I tend to be highly stressed all the time. I have more to do in my day than I do hours. I rely heavily on apps in my phone to remind me of things that are coming up. I set reminder alarms for anything that I can’t move to another day or time. I also have a dry erase calendar in my kitchen where I write everything down so I can see it every day. I’ve also recently started putting sticky notes on my wall by my computer for reminders as well.

  22. It seems planning ahead of time is the way to go but the act of accomplishing these plans are sometimes a challenge.

  23. I have found out that I do better if I write things out and pre plan my day/ week. I end up getting more things accomplished when I do that VS just going with the flow. I have to prioritize my days and my activities on what is most important.

  24. I have short term and long term goals for accomplishing the task of being an online student. I know which days of the week I can devote more time to course work and study and will focus those times on being a student. During the busy work hours during the week, I will focus on work and rest and less time on student activities.

  25. This matrix was definitely an eye opener. I find myself waiting to pay that bill because it is not urgent causing it it go into the important but urgent box in the following weeks to come. Procrastination does cause unnecessary stress. I will try harder to keep important task out of the urgent box to avoid the additional stress. I am pretty good with my down time which would fall in the “not urgent”, “not important” box.

  26. I am still trying to figure out how I’m going to juggle everything between work and school, as well as my personal life. My current job doesn’t leave too much time to do much and my one off day during the week I’m usually trying to cram everything into that one day. Hopefully I can get it together and figure things out so that I am successful at what I’m trying to accomplish.

  27. I recently rearranged my work schedule so I have to commute 4 days instead or 5 or 6. This saves me an hour of drive time a day. Of course my days are longer so I get less time to see my family but more blocks of time to get important things completed. It will take some adjustment time to get everything accomplished and work out the kinks.

  28. Finding time to perform well at work and school will be a challenge. All it take is one crisis at work to throw off my entire schedule.

  29. Easier said than done. Making time is a big challenge but worth it if only you what to achieve anything of value in life.

  30. I feel like I set certain small goals of things I want to accomplish daily. For example on a Saturday I don’t have work I will first priority go to the gym at nine am. after that it may be grocery store, some food prep, laundry, vacuum and study. I try to prioritize whats important on my list and go from their. I try to keep the list in the range of doable tasks that don’t overwhelm me. My friends try to distract me a lot by inviting me or trying to convince me to do other things not on my list. I’ve gotten pretty good at sticking to my guns and staying focused but it is hard sometimes!

  31. Small grocery runs, meal planning on the day of, things like that i need to plan ahead to better have the more time for the daily most urgent things. Starting a visual planner on hand instead of mentally trying to keep track of a week of family activities, work, household chores, study and homework time has also been helpful.

  32. I have a work calendar and a personal calendar. And a paper planner. Personal calendar is electronic and the whole family uses. Paper planner has week view at a time. Has meal planning incleded, area for notes, things to remember and is custom built the way I make it, cant live with out it. But I am finding it hard to find the time to put every thing in it.

  33. Having been a teenage mother of 6 daughters, I have mastered the technique of prioritizing as well as time management. This has been such a habit that I implement this on a daily basis. Even though they are all grown and on their own, I still implement my daily tasks with my every day life through time management. As the saying goes,” old habits are hard to break” and I must say this is a good one to always have.

  34. I plan my weekly schedule the Friday before the following week. Therefore I’m able to space out time for the very important tasks, basically I plan my time based on what is needed to be done with having the things I consider first priority such as myself, job, school. Without setting time for yourself you can’t be productive.

  35. I recently was promoted at a new location and I have a lot to learn to live up to the promotion. Finishing my degree is very important so I’ll have to use grit and better schedule discipline.

  36. I find it less stressful to get ahead of deadlines in all areas of my life(school, work, etc.) just in case something comes up that I have to handle, or there is something that I have to do that I know is going to take a long time or require more focus.

  37. My job is consistently changing so planning can be hard. What I do is map out the goals and tasks I have upcoming for the week and strive to meet those deadlines. I understand that change and last minute urgency will always be there but being able to plan out my tasks and briefing them to my boss can make for a less stressful environment.

  38. I write out my task to accomplish at each morning and prioritize them in order from most important to least. This has helped me stay on task and get the most out of my work day.

  39. I try to plan a daily depending on my work. Sometimes I adjust my workout schedule or modify the activities to manage schoolwork better. This provides me with more time for my assignments and personal time.

  40. I plan my days weekly and daily with the family calendar, work schedule and class calendar for due assignments. My children have schedules and there are multiple things going on daily including weekends. I set up reminders in my calendar to remind me through my phone and this is helpful.

  41. I try to plan my days according to the tasks that I have to complete that day. One thing to note about my job is that things are always changing and nothing is ever set in stone so it makes it kind of difficult to stick to a specific routine. I’m working on having a flexible study schedule to mitigate the effects of my hectic work life.

  42. I realized that M-F i am at the mercy of my work. Being a soldier out in the field one week to late nights the next week can be extremly challenging and unpredictable., However, i now know that the weekends i need to dedicate to school work first.

  43. I like to hit the ground running and work ahead, it’s a learned trait from two decades of not enough time in the schedule, so front loading is necessary to ensure enough work gets done. Unfortunately with the most current situation, now my wife is working from home and the kids are not in school and it is defiantly messing with me that I have to accomplish this assignment at the last possible minute because this is the time available to me.

  44. I try to get the more important things done earlier in my week to leave the rest of the week more stress free and to give myself time to do other more enjoyable things

  45. I have learned to manage my schedule as life occurs. That is to say, my work and lifestyle dictate my schedule. What I have found to be effective is priority management. I prioritize key events, work & college suspense’s and family obligations then add them to my phone calendar with reminders. It’s been working for the past four years or so. However, I have realized that work commitments have intruded into academic and quality time. Incidentally, I will attempt to adhere to a strict 9-4 office schedule for a week in order to determine if I can sustain my work load and improve academic and quality time in the process.

  46. I learned the concept of important non-urgent tasks. I will try to spend most of my time in that area; that would allow me to spike my productivity as well as limiting the level of stress.

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