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Escape the tyranny of the to-do list: how to schedule your priorities, not your time | The JotForm Blog

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Escape the tyranny of the to-do list: how to schedule your priorities, not your time | The JotForm Blog
Building a company creates a busy schedule. There's almost no way to avoid it. But I believe we're taught to manage our time incorrectly. From the moment we have homework, soccer practice or piano lessons, we learn that time management means prioritizing what's on our schedule. However, as...

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The Planning Fallacy

We all have busy schedules, but we are incorrectly planning our day around the time we have, not around priorities.

Our estimates on how long certain tasks will take are almost always ...

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Dwight D. Eisenhower
“What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important."

Dwight D. Eisenhower

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The 4 Kinds of Priorities

The 4 Kinds of Priorities

The Decision Matrix on how to approach tasks has 4 quadrants:

  • Quadrant 1: The Urgent Problems which are important.
  • Quadrant 2: Not Urgent but important tasks

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Prioritize your Peak Energy Time

There are certain times of the day when you are at peak productivity. For some, it's early morning, and for others, it can be the quiet night time.

Reorganize your tasks to engage and ben...

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Maker or Manager

Creative people have a different schedule than managers.

Managers work on a time-based scheduled calendar, but makers or creators cannot be bothered with time. They go deep in their work, fo...

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3 areas of life to clarify

You need to have absolute clarity over 3 fundamental facts:

  • Your goals (the destination)
  • Your current situation (your coordinates)
  • The path that connects both of them (the route).

A very simple, but crucial principle: if you don’t know where you are, you can never reach the place where you want to be.

The world of the status quo bias

Making an alternative choice is hard because we are neurologically wired to favor the default solution, even if it brings suboptimal results.

As the complexity of a decision increases, so does our tendency to stick with the answer we know.

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Personal Operations Category

  • Task management. This one is most commonly taught and includes systems like Getting Things Done.
  • Knowledge management. This is embodied in systems like productivity educa...

What's on your plate

Prioritizing tasks at work involves getting all your tasks and commitments in one place.  Take a piece of paper and make a list of everything you need to get done. Questions to help you:

  • Do you have commitments to others like your boss, partner, kids, or clients?
  • Do you have anything you need to submit? 
  • Do you have any financial tasks that need to get done? 
  • Do you have any planning that needs to get done? 
  • Do you have any administrative tasks? Legal, insurance, staffing, or training?
  • Do you have any professional development tasks that need to get done? Training, areas to research, skills to develop, books to read or study, or classes to take?

Brainstorm your goals

Find your goals. Without them, it is impossible to prioritize your tasks. Try to set 90-day goals, which is long enough to make meaningful progress. Questions to prompt goals:

  • What’s the one thing you could do that makes everything else easier or unnecessary?
  • If you were giving advice to someone else in your position, what 1-3 things would you tell them to focus on?
  • What do you want to have accomplished over the next five years?

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By the hour

This works well for the chronic procrastinator: those who say they will do it later and then wonder why it never gets done.

Instead of getting overwhelmed, tackle your to-do l...

The Pomodoro Method

Rather than trying to work flat-out, break down your day into a series of work-sprints with a short rest period after each session.

Set a timer for 25 min and focus exclusively on your work for that time, take a 5 min break, and repeat.

Some people find that taking a 5 min break destroys their flow. But it does help to break long complex tasks into a series on manageable sprints.

The 2-minute rule

The 2-minute rule is a strategy for quickly assessing and taking action on small tasks so they don’t take up too much mental energy.

Ask yourself if a task is going to take you 2 minutes or less. If so, just do it.

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