Determining what the hell to focus on.
For entrepreneurs, every day is different. One day I'll be signing partnership agreements. The next day I'm interviewing job applicants. And the following day I'm pitching investors. All the while, praying my brain doesn't deactivate after last night's three hours of sleep.
Yet if I can count on one thing, remaining steady, despite the day ... is that there will be distractions.
Constantly distracted by external requests (let alone internal thoughts or ideas, which can be the most distracting), it's easy to forget long-term goals. However, there's a systematic approach I use to stay focused.
A template that forces me to consciously think about a task's importance before doing it.
It functions in three easy steps.
First, make a copy of the Blank Time Management Matrix Template by clicking File > Make a Copy. You can use this blank template to follow along, inserting your own tasks, as I quickly explain how I use the template to prioritize.
However, you must be signed into your Google account in order to make a copy!
Step two is simple. On the sheet 'My To-Do List', write a new task in Column A, then label the task by priority (1, 2, 3, or 4) in Column B.
It will now magically appear in the sheet 'My Prioritized To-Do List', automatically organized for you.
The task prioritization system I use is Dwight Eisenhower's strategic time management matrix (diagram visualized below), which organizes tasks into four quadrants.
Before I used Eisenhower's prioritization system, my to-do list was a never-ending nightmare:
All tasks merged together, leaving me with the perplexing question ... what should I do first???
Now, rather than randomly completing unprioritized tasks, I put them into the template. This forces me to question a task's importance.
I take a few seconds. Stop. Take a breath. Think...
Through these questions, I'm building a system that will drive business forward. Particularly, one guided by my personal G.P.S. system, where I define my Goals, Priorities, and Specialties.
My personal G.P.S. system is the ultimate roadmap (pun intended) for focusing on important tasks, both professionally and personally. It helps me stay focused, but more functionally, it's now easier to label tasks into the appropriate quadrant in Column B.
I encourage you to write down your own G.P.S. system, which is available in the blank template:
For a full glimpse into my to-do list, an example of a completed time management matrix template, access it here.
Not only will you gain access to all my to-do list tasks, but I'll explain the logic behind why I labeled tasks into that specific quadrant.
For a preview, here are a few Q1 tasks and the logic behind why I label them as Q1.
Similarly, here are a few Q3 tasks and whether I'll delegate, automate, or decline them.
Access my entire to-do list (over 35 tasks), along with the logic behind each decision, by grabbing the Google Spreadsheet called Brian's Time Management Matrix Template [example].
Finally, once a task is completed, delete the task on the 'My To-Do List' sheet. Do not delete tasks on the 'My Prioritized To-Do List' sheet. Doing so will erase the formula used to visually sort the tasks.
That's it. It's incredibly simple, yet surprisingly powerful.
Simply write in your new task, label it by quadrant, then delete the task once you're finished. However, you may be asking, "What if I don't have personal assistants?"
Great news. I'm covering that exact subject in a few days.
I'll explain how I find the right personal assistant, including the exact websites to use and precisely how much it costs. Yes, even solo-entrepreneurs will benefit from this information.
In addition, I'll explain how I save time using automated email templates to outsource tasks, which you can easily copy and paste. Everything will be available, completely free, to all email subscribers (subscribe below).
Until then, I'm happy to answer specific questions about how to use the time management matrix template in the comments.
Done! But why stop now? Learn more time management tips by reading the next post in this series.