Home > The Monday Musings Column > on making things happen

on making things happen

Some days are just routine, others more varied and now and again they can be frantic. We get them all, but, for me, it doesn’t matter what the day turns out like as long as I can enjoy the intellectual challenge of getting through it with the least hassle. I have been at it for a long time and have my own time management methods which I have taken from two sources; Eisenhower and Pareto.

I’ll leave you to, if you are interested, look up the detail on the web, but my first stab at the day’s workload is to use the Eisenhower Matrix principle. This is from the WW2 soldier and later US President and is a four box device like the Boston Matrix. The vertical axis is importance and the horizontal is for urgency so you get an important/urgent sector to fix your immediate priorities. Urgent/not important and important/not urgent can be staffed out or put aside for later and anything in the not urgent/not important box can be left, or in Eisenhower’s terms, ignored.

So with the job queue sorted Pareto comes into play in the form of the 80:20 rule whereby you can achieve 80% of the result with 20% of the effort. In most cases 80% of the result will drop the task out of important/urgent in any case and you can worry about the 20% at your leisure.

Obviously only doing 80% on a job is not always acceptable, but take a situation where your boss has asked for a report by 1pm. Here you can draft the bulk of the report as your 80% and hand it over to someone on your team to check the facts and figures and sense check it for you. That detailed work is what takes up 80% of the resource, but you can have moved on to the next priority. Often questions from colleagues or customers can be headed off with a swift, but general, response that allows you to clarify their problem so that what you do to finish it off can be more focused.

What you need to avoid is to become bogged down with problems because one of your perpetual urgent/important tasks is making sure that your job gets done and you can put that in jeopardy by losing yourself in one specific task. Typically I will spend a couple of minutes three or four times a day just quickly reviewing where I am with the day’s schedule and, if I need to, changing the priorities. None of the planning needs to take too much time or you will end up planning more than doing, but to think your day through and have at least an outline plan is more likely to see you make things happen than not and making things happen is what life is all about.

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