How do you plan your day?
That could be one of the most important questions you ask yourself, because without some sort of plan, your day is going to be at the beck-and-call of any outside influence that takes your interest or drives your attention.
We’ve always been told to set priorities, but many people still work from a simple ‘to-do’ list, one that is laid out in an order unspecified or in which they hit our notepad.
Rarely do we list it in the order they are going to be carried out.
We often list our priorities based on what is urgent and important.
This two-dimensional thought process has served us well for over 40 years since it was developed by Dr. Stephen Covey.
But the challenge we have is that the urgent (the most pressing items with deadlines) aren’t always the most important things we need to accomplish.
Oftentimes, the important things get pushed back because we are driven by the urgency framework.
That prospecting call to the person who requested our brochure gets delayed because we have that more pressing email to answer.
It means we are forced to compromise our priorities.
Self-discipline expert Rory Vaden talks about a way to prioritise our day that adds a third dimension to our time management portfolio.
If urgency is the first dimension (how quickly do I have to do something?) and importance is the second dimension (how much does it matter to me?), then the third dimension is added by asking ‘How long will it matter?’
Vaden calls this the ‘Significance paradigm’ and it enables us to plan our day in a different way.
Imagine you’re wondering how to approach the many items you have on your to-do list today.
If you were now to introduce the ‘significance’ factor, you see your list from a different perspective.
For example, if one of the many items you have to do includes ‘Call Prospect X to follow up on email I sent last week’ you can now determine the priority that call has in your day, based on the significance of the result you will achieve.
This changes your mindset away from a simple list based on what order they happen to be on the paper, and turns it into a prioritised list based on the impact the tasks will have on not only today but tomorrow and so on.
So, spend just ten minutes in the morning (or preferably the night before) determining what would be the most significant things you can accomplish today.
Other words you could use for ‘Significant’ include ‘substantial, weighty, major’.
- ‘Of all the things screaming for my attention today, which of them will make a substantial difference to the way this day will turn out?
- If I could only do one significant thing, what would it be?
- If I can get other things done as well, which ones would create more time for me tomorrow?’
By working out what the significant tasks are for you to definitely complete (the ‘must-do’ items) you are able to prioritise those three or four things that take precedence over the other items.
When you’ve accomplished these items, the others can fit around them.
Try this out; it could be the most effective ten minutes of your day!