Study the matrix above.
Urgent means that it has a time factor to it. It needs to be done as soon as possible in order to meet datelines that are either self-imposed or externally imposed. Important means that it fulfills certain long term goals or mission.
Quadrant 1 are the tasks that are both urgent and important. These are crises situation and are emergencies. Priority should be given to these. But how many crises situation are there in a day? If everything is a crisis, your workflow is not set up yet, so you might need to work on that. An example of such a situation is when your client calls you for an important presentation that may lead to a sale. Everything else needs to be put on hold while you pursue this lead.
Quadrant 2 are the tasks that are not urgent but are important. These are the tasks that are often neglected because of the lack of urgency. A good example is retirement planning. Retirement is a goal that is years away for working adults but if you don't start planning now, it might reach a point of no return. So for such situation, we need to sit down and think about what are the things that are potentially urgent in the future and has great impact on your life. These, we need to do long term planning. You can probably delay for a week or two, but certainly not delay in years.
Quadrant 3 are the tasks that are urgent but not important. At best, these are interruptions to your workflow. It could be your boss asking you for yet another board meeting. It could be your mum asking you to get something for her while you are doing your work.
Quadrant 4 are the tasks that are not important and not urgent. I try to push a lot of task into this category as I grow up. Not a lot of things are as important now as it seems in the past. An example of this is playing games. It serves at best as a time waster event, though we all need such activities to relax and wind down. Just don't make this a priority when there are Q1, Q2 and Q3 things left undone.
The ideal workflow goes like this:
- Classify all activities into the four quadrants
- Settle all the Q1 (urgent and important) activities first
- Then try to push those activities from Q3 (urgent but not important) into Q4 (not urgent and not important), as much as possible.
- Settle the remaining Q3 activities
- Schedule the Q2 stuff daily or weekly into your timetable. They are not urgent but they are still important. So do them on a daily/weekly/monthly/yearly basis. The key point is to plan it into your timetable, otherwise they will not be missed until it's too late.
- Do the Q4 activities the last. Or when you need a break from your suddenly productive life.
- Do all assignments that is due this week first
- Pass down some 'arrows' that are shot by your group leaders in your co-curricular activities to others. Those that can't be passed down, just settle it as soon as you can
- Exams are in 2 months time. Have a plan of how your revision schedule will be like. Stick to it every week. Start early, finish leisurely. Start late, finish panicky.
- Stop watching you-tube videos or korean dramas when you don't even have time to finish the above. Allow yourself only a very limited time to do these per week, and only after you've had a good productive week.