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Your Time Allocation

“We must use time wisely and forever realize that the time is always ripe to do right.” – Nelson Mandela

Week Forty Five:

This week’s exercise is all about the 80-20 rule, or Pareto principle. This states that roughly 80% of effects come from 20% of causes. If you can identify the 20% of activities that will take care of 80% of the outcomes that you are aiming for, your time will be better spent. One way to recognize the items that will bring the greatest outcome is to use Dr. Steven Covey’s priority matrix. This categorizes activities according to whether they are important or unimportant as well as urgent or not urgent.

1) Check back at the ‘to do’ list that you generated in week nine. Update it to remove items that you have already completed or have found alternative ways to handle. And add new tasks to bring it up to date.

2) For each item on this updated list, identify the outcome it will give you.

3) Identify each item on your list as important or unimportant as well as urgent or not urgent and categorize them according to Steven Covey’s priority matrix outlined below. What do you notice?

Dr Stephen Covey's Priority Matrix

Items that are both important and urgent are a Necessity and should be MANAGED
e.g. Crisis, Medical emergencies, Pressing problems, Deadline-driven projects, Last-minute preparations for
scheduled activities
Items that are important, but not urgent are a matter of Quality & Personal Leadership and require FOCUS
e.g. Preparation/planning, Prevention, Values clarification, Exercise, Relationship-building, True recreation/relaxation
Items that are unimportant, but urgent fall under Deception and should be AVOIDED
e.g. Interruptions, some calls, Some mail & reports, Some meetings, Many “pressing” matters, Many popular activities
Items that are unimportant and not urgent are a Waste and should be AVOIDED
e.g. Trivia, busywork, Junk mail, Some phone messages/email, Time wasters, Escape activities, Viewing mindless TV shows

This exercise benefits you by bringing clarity to how essential each of the things you have identified as needing doing really are. This knowledge allows you to choose activities that will provide the most bang for your buck so to speak! In other words, you can now differentiate the things that will allow for greatest progress on your goals and get them done first.

In the journey so far, you have identified ways to forward your progress. Many of these you will have already begun to put into practice or carried out like adjusting time spent on specific activities, needs, or values, completing unfinished items, reducing time wasters, increasing times for revitalization, and revamping your time management system. Here you find another way to identify critical tasks that you need to focus on completing before anything else.