Last month, we asked a client to compare their time spent in their business against the time they wish they spent on their business. After undertaking this exercise the client realised there is a huge gap, however that wasn’t enough to fix their problem. We needed to show this client how they could better use their time.
The answer isn’t “work more”, in fact for many business owners that might be the exact opposite of what they’re looking for. The first thing we did was ask our client to plot their responsibilities, their jobs and their time into the Eindhoven 'Urgent and Important' matrix (see below).
The Urgent and Important matrix is a great tool for analysing your time habits. You can try this for yourself, it might even help your own workflow!
Categorise your tasks by asking yourself:
- Is this task important? then;
- Is this task urgent?
The task should then fall into one of the following four categories:
Important, Urgent - Do Now
These are items that need to be dealt with immediately e.g. customer complaints, processing orders, important meetings, incoming prospect calls.
Not Important, Urgent - Delegate
These tasks should be delegated, systemised or dumped e.g. interruptions, non-productive meetings and some calls.
Important, Not Urgent - Schedule
This is what you should focus on for long term achievement of your goals e.g. goal setting, strategic planning, R&D and training, and on a personal level, keeping fit, providing for your retirement and spending time with your loved ones.
Not Important, Not Urgent - Eliminate
Timewasting activities e.g. browsing the internet, nuisance phone calls etc.
When it comes to the Important and Urgent box, this is about resourcing at the right level – building a team who can manage this without having to drag you in all the time. It might also be about recognising that you are trying to do too much – you need to cut product or service lines or be more focused on your ideal customers. You cannot get yourself out of this box by spending more time in it!
We want to be focusing on spending more time in the Important, Not Urgent box. If the client doesn’t work on the tasks in this box, they won’t see changes in their business, they’ll continue to do the tasks that monopolise their time, and they won’t move their business to the place they want it to be.
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