At the start of every week, write a two-by-two matrix on a blank sheet of paper where one side of the matrix says “urgent” and “not urgent” and the other side of the matrix says “important” and “not important.” Then, write all the things you want to do that week.
Quadrant 1: Urgent-Important. These are the most pressing of tasks we’ll likely get to this week. These are the crises that erupt. The most pressing meetings or deadlines fall into this category. When we do fire-fighting, it’s all relating to stuff in this quadrant.
Quadrant 2: Not Urgent – Important. These are the things that matter in the long-term but will yield no tangible benefits this week or even this year. They are things we know we need to get to but probably will push off.
Quadrant 3: Urgent – Not Important. These tasks are the biggest reason we’re not more successful in the long-term. They clog up our time today but, when we look back at these things at the end of the week, we’ll have to admit they were a waste of time.
Quadrant 4: Not Urgent – Not Important. These things we do because we feel like we’re tired and need a break. It’s watching a mindless TV show at the end of the day. It’s checking and rechecking Facebook and Twitter during the day, because we think we might miss something.