Friday, October 26, 2012

Important Tasks, Urgent Tasks and Nagging Tasks

I've been struggling a bit with my project this month. Work caught up with me again, and I've been way too busy, hardly being able to keep head above water. But one of the main goals for this month was to improve my relationship with time and learn how to avoid these situations.

I think that perhaps the most important thing I've learned since starting the happiness project is to be more patient and persistent, as important changes usually take time. I've realized that things rarely happen as fast as I would like, but if instead of giving up, I move on, accepting my failures and learning from my mistakes, eventually amazing things happen. When I look back to my situation when I started this project, I definitely know that I do not want to give up.

So even though my relationship with time is not quite there yet, I want to focus on what has improved. This month I've been planning my time on weekly basis. Each Friday I look at the week ahead and list my deadlines and urgent projects. I also list a couple of important tasks that I want to accomplish. I don't try to schedule every minute of the week. It never works anyway. But I try to get an idea how much can be done during that week considering appointments, meetings, deadlines etc. Each morning I look at my weekly plan and goals and plan the day ahead. This has definitely helped, and I feel like I have more control over things...I am less reactive to outside demands. But the problem is that I still have too many urgent tasks on my to do list. I want to make more space for things that are important to me, but are repeatedly postponed because they are not really urgent.

When I think of urgent tasks these are tasks with clear deadlines that have to be completed now...or never. They can be important, or they can be not so important. Many tasks are not really urgent when they come up, but because I start working on them too late they become urgent. And when they become urgent, I loose control over my time, and I become more reactive than proactive.

I also have nagging tasks on my to-do list. These tend to be semi-important tasks that are not exactly urgent, but because they have been on my to do list for way too long, they make me feel guilty and hence take up way too much energy.

My goal is to eliminate as many urgent and nagging tasks from my to-do list as possible. This means either doing them or dropping them. And then I need to work on my habits to prevent new urgent/nagging tasks on my to do list.

October is already coming to an end. For the next few days I want to log my time in 15 minutes intervals, to get a better sense of where all that time is going...

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