Our most important tasks often don’t find their ways to our calendar.
Our calendars show us mostly meetings, and the time needed for important stuff is usually the empty space between meetings. But when we see the empty time, we think that we have extra time and we add more meetings.
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Instead of immediately focusing on email, meetings, and other activities, we would be better off spending the morning doing productive work that requires a higher cognitive capacity (thinking, planning, calculating, for example), and delaying the tasks that don’t require as much mental energy to the hours when our capacity is diminished.
Unlike small, unimportant tasks, the challenge with our most important tasks is that our efforts aren’t immediately rewarded with visible progress.
The key to success here is to break down the big rocks into smaller milestones so that you can feel a sense of progress.
... is a common excuse we tell ourselves to avoid difficult tasks.
Set aside time, jump in and get done what you can. The best step we can take is to simply make a plan and start.
We engage in tasks that give us the sense we’re achieving something when in fact we’re not.
If you feel the need to get those small things done, get to them only after you have made real progress on an important task first.
With a long, overwhelming list of to-do items, it becomes more tempting to tackle the small, easy things in order to make visible progress.
There’s nothing wrong with keeping a to-do list, but we need to make sure that the joy of erasing things from our to-do list is not shifting the way we spend our time.
... instead of task management.
Task management is more effective than time management because these tasks come with clear limits which make them easier to manage. You know when you’ve started work on a project -- and you know when you’ve completed the job. It’s one limited thing at a time.