It happened to me again today. I started my workday with a list of tasks that had to get done. Some were easy; some were difficult. I had three meetings scheduled, and was prepared for the meetings. I was set to accomplish everything. Well, 6 pm rolled around and I hadn't even gotten to No. 3 on my list, causing the items to roll over to tomorrow's list—again! Plus, I never seem to have time to work on those aspirational projects that could move my career forward.

A recent blog post from suggested referring back to the master of time management—Stephen Covey. With his process, the good news is that you can get everything done. The bad news is that you have to give up the more meaningless tasks along the way. We'll explain in this issue of Promotional Consultant Today.

The blog suggests using Covey's time management quadrant. It's a great tool for creating clarity in your to-do list and can change how you view your work. Rather than stressing about all the things you can't get to, with this method, you decide what you want to do and make time for it. Here's how it works:

Imagine a square divided into four quadrants and labeled as follows:

Top left corner: 1. Urgent And Important

Bottom left corner: 2. Urgent But Not Important

Top right corner: 3. Important, But Not Urgent

Bottom right corner: 4. Not Urgent And Not Important

Next, create a list of all your tasks and rank them by quadrant. Things in Quadrant 1 are both urgent and important. These are most often things that come from others: deadlines for clients, reports for your manager—things that need to be done yesterday, or things will blow up. Quadrant 2 contains things that are important, but not urgent. These are our real goals, the things we want to realize in life. Sadly, these are also the things that we delay because of things in Quadrant 1—or worse, in Quadrant 3: things that are urgent but not important at all.

Good planning creates a balance between Quadrants 1 and 2. Ideally, you should clear out Quadrant 1 completely and work only in Quadrant 2. As for Quadrants 3 and 4: it may sound harsh, but closely look at these tasks and weed out as many as possible. These are the tasks that weigh you down.

How To Decide What's Important (Or Not): If you find you have nothing to put in Quadrants 3 and 4, you're probably taking on too much. Choose what you really want to get done, and what you could live without. Let them go for the time being. Focus on those things that are essential to you, and forget about all the rest. Result: more focus, less clutter.

Today, I'm tackling Quadrant 1 and choosing one item from Quadrant 2. How about you?

Source: YourCoach is a team of certified coaches that helps work teams move toward more communication and harmony. They provide training on a wide range of subjects and marketing communications support for brand identity, from concept to execution.