Multitasking: How to Get Yourself Out of a Gutter and Avoid the Long “To-Do” Lists

A woman I know told me that busy people know how to get things done. I agree to a certain extent. Time is money, and money is time, so you don’t want to waste it. But is it time that you try to manage yourself? It doesn’t matter if you are CEO, employee, business owner, mother, father, sister, brother, etc. Everyone has the same 24 hours. So rather than ask how you manage your time, ask how you manage yourself. If time is the same no matter where you go in the world, then the key is to manage the activities you do throughout the day. Although it may seem like you are running around like a chicken with its head cut off, you do need to sit down to take time to evaluate ALL that needs to be done.

The “Mom” Story

Requiring immediate attention are PRESSING matter. It’s the type of activity that insists on you to react to it. Think of it like a child who is calling out to their mom. “Mom, mom, mom!” More often, the mother will turn her head and acknowledge her offspring with a yielding “yes.” I remember doing this to my mother many times as a child. It was a pressing matter she responded to me (react to me); otherwise, my motor mouth would have continued with “mom.” But was it important to respond? If my mother was in the middle of cooking dinner, how would she respond to me cooking the food any faster? At that moment, what was of pressing matter and important was cooking dinner for the family. It was urgent that she respond so I would keep quiet, but it wasn’t of any importance to cooking dinner. My mother’s mission was to finish cooking dinner. Activities that are IMPORTANT have to do with getting results.

Let’s say you are a business owner. How many times a day do you get unnecessary interruptions? Keep in mind these interruptions could be important but do not require your immediate attention. I hear a lot about the importance of networking. While networking is important to your mission and goals, it doesn’t require your immediate attention. In other words, it’s not a PRESSING matter. Buying business cards, in my opinion, is not a pressing matter, and it’s unimportant.

Stuck in a Gutter

Some of your activities are of pressing matters and important, while some of your activities are pressing matters and are unimportant. And some of your activities are not pressing and are important, while others are not pressing and unimportant. Whether you are starting out or building your career, running a business, running a household, or juggling other activities and finding yourself stuck in a gutter, organizing your priorities takes precedence. Otherwise, you will be wondering how you will accomplish ALL that needs to be done and feel like you are stuck in a gutter.

Pressing Not Pressing
Important Box 1: projects w/ nearby deadlines                             problems needing resolutions Box 2: social media                                   projects w/ future deadlines                          some emails & phone calls                                           business planning                 networking                               building relationships                           creating new opportunities               exercising
Not important Box 3: answering some emails & phone calls                         Meetings (some of them are unproductive) Box 4: some emails & phone calls                                         leisure activities                   buying business cards

PRESSING – REACTION

IMPORTANCE – RESULTS

As I’ve alluded to earlier in this post, PRESSING requires your immediate attention, meaning you have to react to it at that moment. IMPORTANCE has to do with results. In order for something to be important, you have to have a clear idea of what is important to you and/or your business. You must have clarity in your mission, values, and goals—they provide a sense of direction. Otherwise, you will veer your energy to PRESSING matters.

Seize the opportunity

If you focus on managing most of your energy in Box 1, you will burn out. It’s not conducive for you to react to everything. Therefore prioritizing your day or week is very important, so you don’t burn out or waste your time. Box 2 includes the types of activities that do not require your immediate attention but are important to your business. This is the section of activities that you have to initiate to produce results—seize the opportunity. Quoting Stephen Covey, “Effective people are not problem-minded; they’re opportunity-minded. They feed opportunities and starve problems.” Compared to Box 3 and Box 4, which are typically unproductive and a waste of your time, Box 2 doesn’t demand your immediate attention. Therefore, you are not taking any immediate action. The immediate action, our proactive approach, requires you to get up and initiate on your own. Unlike problems needing immediate resolution and demanding your time, which is easier for you to approach because it’s insisting on your time, Box 2 require you to schedule these activities. Focus most of your time and energy on activities that will produce results aligned with your mission, values, and goals.

Money Mogul Tip: 

Identify your mission, values, and goals.

Create your own Box 1, 2, 3, and 4 and fill in the activities for each one. How often do you focus on Box 1? Box 2? Box 3? Box 4?

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