Most of us feel productive when we merely keep up with our daily to-do list, but prioritizing your work can help you actually get ahead. Thomas Davies at Google uses quadrants to prioritize his tasks to determine which will have the biggest impact at work.
How To Manage Time By Quadrants
- Write down all the things you do in a week. This should include everything from big projects to checking your inbox.
- Look for patterns and themes. Group like items together. Davies recommends having four categories, for example:
- People development (managing teams, coaching, mentoring)
- Business operations (data analysis, running sales meetings)
- Transactional tasks (one-off things like responding to an email or reviewing a budget)
- Representative tasks (serving as a "face" for the business, like having drinks with customers or speaking at conferences)
- Reflect on how these categories make you feel. Do you love the work you do in one category, but now realize the majority of your day is spent doing something else? Does one quadrant contain the tasks that have the biggest impact on your company?
- Design your day accordingly. We all hope the work we love is also the work that has the most impact on the business's bottom line. If that’s not the case for you, design your day by sandwiching the big impact work with the enjoyable and energizing work.
- Identify pain points and learn to say “no.” If you realize the work you spend the most time on is neither enjoyable or impactful (like checking emails), then this might be a great time to check in with your higher-up about your roles. (If you are the higher-up, then consider delegating.) It will be easier to say “no” to a task if you can prove that it’s not essential to the business.
Takeaway: While you will likely always have to spend at least part of your day doing things you less-than-love, getting clear on how you’re spending your time will help you work with more intention, and have a bigger pay off at the end of each week.