Win the battle against the time wandering
Matea MilinkovićKey Account Manager
Time stressors are some of the most common sources of pressure in the workplace, and they happen as a result of having too much to do, in too little time.

Creative agencies are probably one of the most exciting and entertaining places to work at. But, as in the other companies, agency life is a time-pressured world where you have so much to do and so little time. "Urgent" things have become everyday occurrences.

Picture this: You have a long to-do list, and you have no idea where to start. If you’re anything like me and my colleagues, you want to get everything done before the deadlines, and sometimes all at the same time so you can move on. But how to decide what needs to be done in the first place, and what could be put on hold?

Surely we all found ourselves in a situation where we simply do not know where to start from all the obligations and tasks that are waiting for us.

And when we add to it a noisy environment where it’s difficult to concentrate, so many informations coming to us from clients, social networks, boss, friends, family… it’s clearly how we can easily get lost in everything.

In Reroot agency, everyday communication with our clients and our teams requires good organization, setting clear priorities as well as goals. A good organization not only saves time but also reduces stress, increases efficiency and reduces possible mistakes. Often we think that time should be organized, which is wrong, because time is perfectly organized: 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 12 months a year. Which brings us to the fact that we are those who are looking forward to the organization.

The Eisenhower Matrix

The Eisenhower Matrix, which is also known as the Urgent-Important Matrix, helps you prioritize your tasks based on their urgency and importance. Furthermore, it allows you to identify tasks that you should either delegate or leave undone. I know how it sounds scary to leave something undone, but believe me, sometimes it feels so gooood.

Leading this model it’s up to us to evaluate what are we going to do now, what we will enter  into planner, and what we will not plan at all.

How to use the Eisenhower Matrix?

Prioritizing tasks by urgency and importance results in 4 quadrants with different work strategies. All our activities can be classified into one of the 4 quadrants in the chart.

Quadrant 1

Contains tasks that are both urgent and important. These are “do first” tasks because they are critical for your career or life in some way and need to be finished right away. Trust me, you want to get these tasks done as soon as possible. It is very important to be able to manage the tasks that are in this quadrant to avoid negative consequences.

Quadrant 2

Implicates tasks that are important, but less urgent. These are “schedule” tasks. Professional time managers try to manage most of their work in the second quadrant which leads to reduced stress. This is where you want to invest the majority of your time. Don’t forget, just because these tasks are not urgent does not mean that they are not important. Also, everyone has different goals, so just because something falls into quadrant 2 for you, it may not for your colleague, client or someone else.

Quadrant 3

Is for those tasks that you could “delegate” which is not so easy sometimes.  When you think that something is urgent but actually isn’t, it’s usually somekind of distraction that is coming from the outside. For example, checking your email or phone, or responding to people as soon as they try to contact you. These leads you to stop what are you doing because of belief it’s urgent. When you think about it, it could wait. It is very important to learn how to delegate certain things. You would be surprised that you are not the only firefighter in the company and that someone else can turn off the fire too.

Quadrant 4

Is something that, honestly, you want to avoid. We can call it “don’t do” quadrant as well. These tasks are simply a waste of your time and they should be eliminated. Discover and stop the bad habits that are real time-wasters, such as spending time on not important or not urgent emails or surfing the internet for no reason. Does that mean that nothing in quadrant 4 should be a part of your life? Of course not. It’s very important to have a balance between your professional and personal life.

Guidelines for using the Eisenhower Matrix

Make to-do list and try limiting yourself to no more than eight tasks per quadrant. Before adding another one, complete the most important one. Remember, you’re not a collector of tasks, your goal is to finish them.

Eliminate distractions and do not let others define your priority. Plan ahead then work on your stuff and in the end enjoy the feeling of satisfaction.

Keep track of the tasks you delegate to others to see the progress.

When we use this principle, we list all of the activities and projects that we feel we have to do. Furthermore, we use colors in our system: red is for urgent, yellow for important, but not so urgent, green for tasks that needs to be delegated and grey for tasks that are waste of our time. It helps us to improve our time management.  

For example, you are at the office at 8am. After checking the morning e-mails, you’re working on some project which deadline is three months from now. Your boss reminds you that the report for your team’s last project is due by 2pm, which is both urgent and important. Your colleague comes to you and says that you lack of paper for your printer, you need to order new ones. This doesn’t have much to do with your career goals so you can easily delegate that task. Your boss comes again and reminds you of your presentation to a new client next Tuesday. This is important, but not urgent, so you can put that in second quadrant and dedicate to it later. You’re expecting your friend to put a new photo from wedding on Instagram and you’re scrolling Instagram news feed. You already know that you should put that in fourth quadrant.

Remember, the challenge is to spend most of your time in quadrant 2 and just enough time in quadrant 4 to get by. Always keep your focus on your most important tasks. The little ones will take care of themselves, if they don’t they weren’t important in the first place.

 

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