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

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 not realistic.

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

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

https://www.jotform.com/blog/schedule-priorities/

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Key Ideas

Dwight D. Eisenhower

Dwight D. Eisenhower

“What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important."

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
  • Quadrant 3: Urgent but not really important
  • Quadrant  4: Distractions and time-wasting tasks. 

Prioritize the important (Quadrant 2) to attain maximum benefit from your work.

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 benefit from your peak times.

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, forgetting any schedule.

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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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Jack Mezirow

"By far the most significant learning experience in adulthood involves critical self-reflection - reassessin..."

Jack Mezirow
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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Oliver Emberton
"The secret to mastering your time is to systematically focus on importance and suppress urgency."
Oliver Emberton
Important vs. urgent tasks
  • Important tasks are things that contribute to your long-term mission, values, and goals.
  • Urgent tasks are tasks that have to be dealt with immediately: phone calls, urgent deadlines, and situations where you have to respond quickly.

Sometimes important tasks stare you right in the face, but you neglect them and respond to urgent but unimportant things.

Don't be available all the time

Time, not money, is your most valuable asset. Invest your asset:

  • Allocate time to each task you need to get done every day. 
  • Each task of the day should be attainable, realistic, and time-bound. And it should advance your goals for the day, week or month.
  • Don't get distracted by everything others expect you to do.

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