Task Minimalism — Why I’m setting only one priority

Because time management shouldn’t be borderline delusional…

If you’re anything like me, you might be overly optimistic and sit down to work with a to-do list a mile long. I’m regularly confident to the point of delusion that I can get through it all. It seems entirely possible at 9am (more on that here). Then night falls. I’m maybe one quarter through and not sure what went wrong.

I wonder where all the time went, and how I managed to miss one really important tasks, and sadly did do a lot of busy work. Sigh. I push the important tasks onto tomorrow list, to be tomorrows problem. The cycle then repeats…

(More thoughts about The Planning Fallacy here).

What are the Most Important Tasks?

The Eisenhower/ Covey Decision Matrix

“What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important.” — Eisenhower

This matrix was popularized by Steven Covey in his famous book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, and can be considered when prioritizing tasks on your to-do lists.

The first and second quadrants is where you want to spend most of your time. I know my long to-do lists haven’t been focused closely enough on those quadrants. The third and fourth quadrants are often just wasted time. (I have to admit a lot of quadrant three.)

Starting with the Most Important Tasks

I think it was Brian Tracy who popularized Mark Twain’s famous quote to be a beacon of the personal productivity industry in his book Eat that Frog.

Starting with One Most Important Task — The Power of One Priority

I’m finally working out that dropping expectations and set only one priority for myself for each day is a better way. This is a big change to my usual workflow. It’s surprisingly confronting to have to actually narrow down to the one most important task, and not hide from the painful eat-that-frog type task that really needed the attention! Steven Pressfield explained it as “resistance” in this amazing book — The War of Art. I’m giving it a go for 365 days for my resolution for this year!

How do you prioritize succesfully? Tweet me @juliaclavien

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