FITTING THE TASK TO THE TIME AT HAND
Originally printed in the Zweig Letter on December 27, 2020 by Megan Chang
Focus on getting stuff done and moving forward by fitting the tasks on your to-do list to either the time slot or energy you have available.
There are many ways to decide what to do with your time. I’m a completionist by nature, one of those strange individuals who views the act of crossing a task off the list and getting to move on to the next as its own reward. Coincidentally, the method I outline below focuses on getting stuff done and moving forward by fitting the task to either the time slot or energy you have available. This method isn’t meant to supplant tried and true time management practices such as the Eisenhower Decision Matrix, it’s meant to complement them.
The Eisenhower Decision Matrix helps you group tasks based on what’s important and what’s urgent, with tasks that are urgent and important having the greatest claim on your time and tasks that are unimportant and not urgent having the least claim on your time. When sorting through the tasks that are important, how well you can perform a task depends on the amount of time you have to work with and how alert you are.
When you’re pressed for time (think those 15-minute intervals between meetings), it’s best to tackle tasks that won’t take long to do. As a general rule, most of those tasks won’t take much brain power either. Responding to an email, delegating a task, and doing prep work for larger tasks are all excellent things to do with this time. You may be tempted to make a phone call or check in with a junior staff member, but unless you’re absolutely certain you can finish in the time slot you have without cutting them off, I suggest you leave it for a larger chunk of time.