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1. Write a list 2. Prioritise

I love a list, it is such a great way to stop every thought running around your head. Whether you use a piece of paper, a beautiful book, an electronic note or something even more advanced like Trello it really does not matter. Just the process of getting a list together helps to lessen anxiety, provides structure and proof of what you have achieved over the day / week / month.

Four quadrants of time management

The one problem with a list is if you don't then apply any prioritisation or look at when you can do things (ie plan) then it can overwhelming; a long list is frightening for anyone especially when you are short of time as it just makes you worry when you are going to get it all done. So if you have a lot on your list this is where 'the four quadrants of time management will help' (not the most exiting title I know!).

Breaking your list up into different areas based on urgency and importance will really help you to identify the things that you need to do now, the ones you need to make time for and those that can wait. I promise it is a quick and easy way to put some priority to the items on your list.

How to prioritise:

✔ Write your list.

✔ Draw a cross on a piece of paper.

✔ Label across the top - left Urgent / right Not Urgent.

✔ Label down the side - top Important / bottom Not Important.

✔ Look at each item, first decide if it is Important, if so it should sit in the top two quarters, you just have to decide if it it Urgent (e.g. you have lost your keys or the house will burn down) or Not Urgent (e.g. researching your next summer holiday or upskilling) - write your task down in the relevant quarter.

✔ If it is Not Important (and this means to you, not someone else!) then you can put it in the bottom two quarters, again Urgent (an email from a friend who just wants you to reply NOW) or Not Important (watching the next episode of Grace and Frankie on Netflix). And that is it!

What to concentrate on:

✔ Important & Urgent - Do now.

✔ Important & Not Urgent - Block out a chunk of time to do this (interruption free).

✔ Not Important & Urgent - Try to limit this activity or delegate it if you can, don't let other people's priorities distract you from what is important to you.

✔ Not Important & Not Urgent - Dump it if it is not to do with some R&R, otherwise do this when you have got through all those important things.

And it you want to take it one step further you can get out your diary and use all this info to start planning when you are going to do things; make sure you block out time for all the Important / Not Urgent things, as these are the ones that will make a real difference to you life. And remember, when you estimate how long something will take always double your first guess, things always take longer than you think. So why don't you give it a try and see if it works for you.

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