When running a company, you do not seem to catch a break. Everything from planning employee birthdays to raising your next round of funding is presented to you as critical to the organisation in equal measure.

However, effective executives know that not "everything" is essential; you can choose which tasks get your time and attention and which ones need a different approach.

In this blog post, we will explore ways in which you can improve your productivity by avoiding the "everything is important" trap.

Create a master list

The first important thing you need while determining the importance of the items in your queue is to have a comprehensive list of items.

Hence, you'll need to create a master list of everything on your plate. The listing process will ensure that you consider each task presented to you and can then rank them for suitability.

Ideally, this list needs to be ready the night before so that you can start fresh tomorrow instead of figuring things out at the beginning of the day when you really should be executing.

Use the Eisenhower matrix

Once you have a master list, create an Eisenhower matrix known as the urgent-important matrix. Not everything urgent is important, so you must differentiate between the two.

Once you have decoupled them, take the list of items on the "Important and Urgent" quadrant and add them to a new prioritized list (next step) rest through the "delegate, defer, or discard" system.

Under the "delegate, defer, or discard" system, you will need to do the following:

  1. If a task is important, but you are not the best equipped to do it, then you need to delegate it to someone in your team.
  2. If a task is important but not urgent, then you can defer it to a future date or period. You can use the Routine Planner to add tasks you'd like to defer to a future week.
  3. If a task is unimportant, then you should strongly consider discarding it.

Put the list through the Ivy Lee Method

Once you have the list of items from your "Important and Urgent" quadrant, prioritize them based on importance.

Once you have a prioritized list, add the top 6 tasks to your list of tasks for the next day and add the remaining tasks to the next day's list.

Go through the tasks in the order of importance and don't move to the next task unless the current one is complete.

We have written a comprehensive blog post on the Ivy Lee Method; you can read it here.

Time block for efficiency

Once you have your list ready, it would help to block time on your calendar for these tasks. The easiest way to mess up a productive day is not to have any sense of direction on where it is heading.

Blocking time will remove the ambiguity from your day and reduce the anxiety associated with constantly trying to guess what you will do and when.

You can block time on an app like Routine by dragging and dropping task items into your calendar. If you don't have access to Routine, sign up for our waitlist using the form below this blog post.

Postpone smartly

It is almost considered sacrilegious for entrepreneurs to hit snooze on an item that is presented as urgent. As you probably know, not everything presented as urgent is important.

So be ruthless and postpone anything that does not need to be done immediately. At Routine, we have built our planner with features that can help you do this effectively.

When you want to revisit a particular task or item at a future date, you can assign it to a week's batch on Routine. The postpone feature will push you to consider tasks strategically while giving you the flexibility of more precise planning even as close as when you arrive at that week.

Conclusion

While there are too many things to do, you should pick the ones that give you the best return on your time and effort invested. Using the methods/hacks stated above, you can be more mindful about what ends up on your plate and if it is full because it needs to be or just because it exists.

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