How to Prioritise when everything feels like an emergency | Lifestyle By Laptop

How to Prioritise when everything feels like an emergency

Now this may seem like a simple exercise, and like your current task planning method. However, trust me this really does make a difference to your standard to-do list! This has REALLY helped me to get the important things done, and push forward on building the life that I’ve designed!!

Most of us struggle with prioritizing everyday tasks. We struggle to get started and get distracted when we have a number of things to get done but. It’s also difficult to decide which task should be given priority when there are a lot of things to get done. I struggle with prioritizing tasks,  but have found a way to visually prioritise. Allowing me to do the stuff I should be doing, and even pretty much ignoring things that are of little value.

I do this by asking two questions.

Is this task important?


Is this task Urgent?

I now actually have a box drawn on my whiteboard with the following sections.

  1. Urgent and Important
  2. Not Urgent but Important
  3. Urgent But Not Important
  4. Not Urgent and Not Important

Which looks like this (without the notes of course)

How to Prioritize

Ideally, you will need to prioritize tasks by doing those that are important but Not Urgent first. In this way, you can have many important tasks done without the stress that we usually feel when we leave  those important tasks until the due date.  The that we all too often get stuck doing things that are Urgent but Not Important, like answering phone calls, checking emails, and responding to things that have immediate calls to action but provide no real value. Hence we tend to lose concentration and valuable time that we could be doing the important things.

The things that I try to do, in order to avoid the distractions of the urgent unimportant tasks are.

  1. Keep my phone and email off whilst doing value work
  2. Keep my tasks in the matrix above
  3. Work in blocks of 45 minutes to an hour to maximise concentration
  4. Do some quick low value tasks during outside of my concentration time, or at lunch time
  5. Delegate as much as possible.

I would recommend that you completely ignore the tasks that fall into quadrants 3 and 4. Instead, focus only on the first two and you’ll be amazed at how much more you’ll feel that you’ve achieved.

Here’s a few tips for how I use the efficiency matrix.

  • Quadrant 1 – Attempt to manage situations and delegate where possible. Doing Quadrant 2 in good time avoids many of these Important Urgent tasks occurring.
  • Quadrant 2 – Spend most time here. Make this most of your day. Do these ASAP. Think to yourself “I need to do it as some point so I may as well just get it done”. This is also great for avoiding stress, and giving you that sense of satisfaction that you’ve achieved something.
  • Quadrant 3 – AVOID THIS TRAP!! Make it someone else’s problem or ignore!!
  • Quadrant 4 – Limit this!! – Do as a little break from mind demanding tasks. Ideally remove these entirely.


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