The Productive Mindset Method (Part 2: Priorities and Routines)
I get it. It looks like a hot mess. Don’t worry. I got you this far. I’ll show you have to take those tasks and make them impactful priorities and develop a routine!
In this post, I’ll continue to breakdown The PMM into digestible segments. We will focus on 2 themes this time:
- Priorities (Chapter 3),
- Routines (Chapter 4)
Impactful Priorities & The Eisenhower Matrix
Let’s quickly go over what “Impactful Priorities” are. We define “Impactful Priorities” as priorities that correlate to your goals. These priorities make an impact on whether you successfully achieve your goals. I’ve also color coded the 3 levels for ease of use when used on your weekly layout. Your impactful priorities are divided into RED (HIGH), ORANGE (MEDIUM), and GREEN (LOW).
RED (HIGH): These are tasks that are required to be completed within the next 24 hours.
ORANGE (MEDIUM): These are tasks that need to be completed by mid-week or mid-workweek.
GREEN (LOW): These are tasks that need to be completed by the end of the week or end of the work week.
In order to determine the right priorities to tackle, you will use the Eisenhower Matrix.
The Eisenhower Matrix is a productivity, prioritization, and time-management framework designed to help you prioritize a list of tasks or agenda items by first categorizing those items according to their urgency and importance. This approach comprises drawing a four-box square with an x-axis labeled Urgent and Not Urgent, and the y-axis labeled Important and Not Important. Then, group the items on your list into one of the four boxes, with the Urgent-and-Important box in the upper left requiring your immediate action. It looks like this:
- First Quadrant (upper left): urgent and important
- Second Quadrant (upper right): important, but not urgent
- Third Quadrant (lower left): not important, but urgent
- Fourth Quadrant (lower right): neither important nor urgent
Get them done tasks in quadrant 1.
These are the items that are both urgent and important, and they, therefore, demand your action right away. Items in this quadrant typically include crises and issues with deadlines. One example, Covey explains in his sample Eisenhower Matrix above, might be a fire in your kitchen.
Schedule when to deal with the tasks in quadrant 2.
These are essential issues, but they’re not urgent and therefore don’t require your immediate action. So these are the items you’ll want to schedule work for a later time. Quadrant 2 items are typically tasks or projects that can help you personally or professionally or help your business achieve a long-term goal.
Delegate the tasks in quadrant 3.
These are urgent items that pop up and demand immediate attention. But because they’re unnecessary, they don’t require your time, and they can, therefore, assign them to someone else. Examples of these items would be requests for help from colleagues or emails marked urgent. If the content of these interruptions doesn’t rise to your level of importance, delegate them to others.
Delete the items in quadrant 4.
These items in your Eisenhower Matrix are not essential or urgent, so you can, in most cases, erase them from your list. Quadrant 4 items include scrolling through Facebook, checking Twitter, or playing games. These tasks are okay if you have time or need a break from the more important and more urgent items, but they should not displace them on your list of priorities.
Now, it’s time to take those tasks you listed on your monthly calendar view and prioritize them!
How should I do this? What steps should I take?
First, make time to set your impactful priorities each week. Yes, this needs to be done each week. If your week starts on a Sunday, like most popular calendars, block some time on Saturday to get your priorities straight for the upcoming week. If you are like me and prefer to start your weeks on a Monday, block time on Sunday. I stress this must be done each and every week! Why each week? It helps you set a routine and track your progress.
Second, make a list of all the week’s tasks and their deadlines. Now, you have an idea of how urgent some of your tasks are because they have a deadline associated with them. One thing to note, if a task does not a deadline or the deadline is not immediate, it is NOT a priority for the week you are planning. Put that task on your monthly calender view. These tasks can take up too much room under the NOT URGENT, NOT IMPORTANT on your weekly matrix.
Third, fill in the Eisenhower Matrix and then categorize your tasks into Impactful Priorities.
Lastly, add them to your weekly planner!
Morning and evening routines prime you for success. They help you achieve more, think clearly, and do work that actually matters. They keep you from stumbling through your day and make sure you get the most important things done.
You may find it tedious at first, but you’ll find your days will flow much more smoothly when you’ve bookend them with quality morning and evening routines.
Routines, habits, and rituals. What’s the difference?
Habits are things we do automatically, things like checking your email first thing in the morning or putting your keys in a specific spot when you get home.
Routines are usually a collection of habits or actions you do regularly to bring order to your day—checking your email, then writing your day’s to-do list, then checking your team’s project management tool as a way of getting the day started.
Rituals are like routines. The major difference is the attitude behind the actions: Taking a walk every day at lunch could be considered a routine if you think of it as something you need to do for your productivity. Or it could be a ritual if you think of it as a way to break out of the mundane and enjoy nature.
Seven things to consider when creating a better morning routine:
- Wake up earlier (just five minutes at a time). Take this early morning ‘win’ with you for the rest of your day.
- Get some fresh air, drink a glass of water, or get in a light workout to wake up your body.
- Do use an alarm, but don’t hit the snooze button. Get up and at ‘em!
- Keep your phone (if it’s your alarm) outside your bedroom overnight. (You’ll have to get out of bed to turn it off.)
- Don’t beat yourself up if you cannot follow your routine. Think of your new morning routine as a skill that needs to be honed. Try again tomorrow.
- Allow for changes in your routine. Adaption is key; your routine will and should evolve over time.
- Have a relaxing evening and go to bed to allow for 7-9 hours of sleep.
Nine things to consider when creating a better evening routine:
- Check your to-do list and/or create a new one. Check off what you accomplished that day and create tomorrow’s to-do list for productive morning.
- Prepare your outfit for the next day. This will save you some valuable time in the morning and also eliminate a stress factor right from the get-go.
- Check the bathroom, kitchen, and living room. Do a little cleaning to avoid small chores in the morning.
- Get comfy! Ditch the business suit and uncomfortable shoes as soon as you get home.
- Wash your face and brush your teeth. You’ve had dust and dirt in the air clinging to you all day and you don’t want it seeping any further into your pores!
- Journaling. Reflect on the events of the day and congratulate yourself on the day’s accomplishments. Show gratitude.
- Read for 20 to 60 minutes. Yes, it sounds boring. But it will put you at ease to the point of being tired.
- Put your electronic devices away. Put everything on do not disturb.
- Clear your mind. Turn off all the lights and get comfortable. Don’t let your mind wander.
Today, we went over how to priorities your task and develop a routine. Next, we’ll talk how to organize your day. If you are interested in learning more about The Productive Mindset Method, come back to the blog every Friday where I’ll go in-depth about each theme of the workbook.
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