Distinguish urgent from important - Deepstash
Distinguish urgent from important

Distinguish urgent from important

A flawless to-do list is one of the keys to good multitasking. And the secret behind it is a thorough understanding of the differences between urgent (tight deadlines) and important (long-term sustainability) matters.

For instance, try applying the Eisenhower’s Principle. It says you should prioritize your tasks in the following sequence:

  • Important and urgent;
  • Important but not urgent;
  • Not important but urgent;
  • Not important and not urgent.

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MORE IDEAS FROM THEARTICLE

Keep your brain sharp

Among the techniques under investigation, game playing is one of the most popular because of its several concurring tasks, such as clicking on buttons, listening to instructions, and reacting to automated responses.

If you want to stay offline, other suggestions are sports activities, dancing, or table games. Anything that involves doing more than one thing at the same time can help you to enhance your multitasking skills.

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Work on related tasks together

Sometimes, you don’t have to switch assignments. You can work on more than one simultaneously if they are related.

For example:

  • Hold a meeting to discuss several topics
  • Prepare a single presentation to apply for a loan that will fund more than one project

It won’t always be so simple. You will need to look for other ways to group your tasks. This approach has the extra advantage of presenting you the big picture so that you can transfer knowledge from one project to another.

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Avoid distractions

The problem is that too much external stimulation can become an issue, even if it comes from your duties. Nevertheless, not all distractions are bad. For instance, music helps some people to work better.

To find a happy medium, do a test:

  • List all interferences around you
  • Eliminate them one by one: work in another area.
  • Observe the impact of their absence on your work

If your performance improved, it’s time to remove the factor in question from your working life.

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Start improving your multitasking skills now

Efficient multitasking can be easily achieved if you understand its true meaning. You will be able to deal with more than one project as long as you aren’t trying to complete tasks at the same time. 

Finally, don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Like any other skill, multitasking is something you develop over time. Build it up step by step and learn from your mistakes. You will notice the positive results sooner than you expect.

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Use online tools to keep you on track

To make the tips above easier for you, consider adopting an online tool. If you need is a to-do list, there are many apps you can use free. However, as a project manager, you probably need a more powerful project management tool, something that allows you to have all your projects, communications and their respective tasks in one place.

No project management tool is perfect, yet you want features able to tackle your most important concerns, such as communication, task management, and workflow.

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Learn to supervise

Delegating is at the core of task organization. It allows you to assign to yourself the tasks matching your skill set, optimizing your time and increasing performance. But it also has a negative side. Your team will be reaching out to you, interrupting to seek approval.

If the demand is interfering with your productivity, go back to your to-do list and set time aside for it. Let your collaborators know when you will be available, and which situations are considered as emergencies.

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 Plan ahead

Once you become more confident in your ability to multitask, start planning your day ahead . You will then realize the following about most of your tasks:

  • They repeat at regular intervals
  • Some require more concentration than others
  • Many of them relate to each other

This understanding will help you to switch assignments, offering the information you need to become better organized. Once you reach this stage, consider creating to-do lists one, two, three weeks beforehand .

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Take breaks

As important as the time you spend being productive, are the minutes you save to rest. Taking breaks is a proven way to restart your mind so you can get back to work refreshed. Your body will also thank you for the opportunity to move around, preventing muscular tension and its damaging consequences.

The usual recommendation is stopping for 15 minutes every hour, and never skipping lunch. But it’s also essential to pre-schedule your time off, so it’s set at regular intervals .

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Learn to concentrate

Concentration is fundamental to multitasking. Here are some suggestions on how to accomplish it:

  • Work on your willpower: Procrastination can make you waste time between projects. Make sure you know the importance of what you are doing.
  • Try some meditation: Staying in silence in a dark room while paying attention to your breath is just one of its technique.
  • Take notes (or doodle): Specialists also suggest that engaging in handwriting activity during work can help you to stay on the right track. 

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Keep your coffee addiction in check

However, while caffeine isn’t the villain many people used to think, drinking it too often can have a negative impact on multitasking skills.

An excessive amount of caffeine can raise your blood pressure, cause insomnia, and increase irritability. Its withdrawal effects can also lead to several issues, from headaches to anxiety. All this together can destroy your concentration and ability to switch tasks. So, yes, enjoy your coffee, but don’t let it interfere with your work.

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Accept your limits

To better manage task organization, be aware of your limits. Your day has 24 hours. Your resources are what they are. Above all, you have your own personality to respect. In other words, before deciding how to multitask, you need to draw a realistic picture of the scenario.

Of course, you can always expand the above with the use of technology. Just keep in mind the number of projects or assignments you are truly capable of managing and completing within your working hours. 

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Work in blocks of time

Adopt the Pomodoro Technique. It suggests that you work in 25-minute blocks, then take a short break after each block, followed by a longer break after every 4 blocks. However, this might not work for you if it forces you to stop at a critical stage.

The idea works because it’s easier to concentrate for 30 minutes than 1 hour. You just need to figure out the best time length for your project.

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Task switching

Many of the multitasking warnings actually refer to the concept of “task switching.” It refers to switching your attention from one thing to another. 

Frequently flipping back and forth between different to-dos, is bad. It depletes your mental resources, wastes time, and will leave you feeling spread too thin.

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  • Procrastinating on tasks—both small, nagging ones and large, challenging ones
  • Boring work that needs just to get done
  • Responding to email and other messages while working
  • Staying motivated and energized throughout the entire work day
  • Focusing and finishing the most important projects on their plates
  1. Focus on most important tasks first
  2. Cultivate deep work
  3. Keep a distraction list to stay focused
  4. Use the Eisenhower Matrix to identify long-term priorities
  5. Use the 80/20 rule
  6. Break tasks into smaller pieces
  7. Take breaks
  8. Make fewer decisions
  9. Eliminate inefficient communication
  10. Find repeatable shortcuts
  11. Learn from successes as well as mistakes
  12. Plan for when things go wrong
  13. Work before you get motivated or inspired
  14. Don’t multitask
  15. Fill the tank — recharge
  16. Sharpen the axe
  17. Manage your energy (not just time)
  18. Get better at saying “no”

Laura Earnest of Whole Life Productivity  had this to say on the importance of prioritization as a productivity habit:

“Let me say that I distinguish between efficient and effective, but that both are needed for peak productivity. Efficient is doing things right and effective is doing the right things. So the most productive people work on the high value tasks, making sure that how they are doing those tasks is the best way.

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Start your day with a list of things you know you tend to waste time on. Keep the list nearby. When you notice you’re wasting time, add that time-waster to the list. This will serve as a reminder of things you shouldn’t allow yourself to do–like watching cat videos when you should be sending emails.

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