How to Streamline Your Day

How to Streamline Your Day



Do you feel like you always have too much on your plate? Like your day needs to be 48 hours because: your boss requested that you walk his dog, your wife needs your sheets changed, and you still need to edit your kid’s album on Photoshop?


Well, if you’re like me, your days stretch into 60 hours, right? Well, there’s a solution to that! You can prioritize.


Sure, it seems simple. But choosing which to prioritize is not. The trick is to have the willpower to drop whatever is not urgent and important in your day. So how do you do the choosing?


  • First, get a pen and paper. Or open your computer’s spreadsheet or word processing program.


  • Make categories: “urgent and important”, “important but not urgent”, “urgent but not important”, and “not important nor urgent”.


    • Under “important and urgent,” write down what you need to do now that is of high importance. The kind that if you don’t do tonight, you’ll get fired, or worse, your wife will make you sleep outside the house. Make sure that these are really important, that not doing this would have a big consequence. No, it does not mean the task of having to buy your wife a can of Pringles in the middle of the night. Unless she’s pregnant and you don’t want to wake up next to the dog.


    • Next, under “important but not urgent,” write what is of great importance to you but you can do tomorrow or next week.


    • Under “urgent but not important,” write down what you want to do today, but not really essential to survive another (normal 24-hour) day.


    • Finally, under “not important nor urgent,” write what you honestly could live without.


  • Next go through your list. For the ones under Category 1 (urgent and important), see how much you could squeeze today, with enough breathing space and time to sleep for 6-8 hours. Budget your day around that, and make sure you stick to that schedule. If your day still runs over, this means you need to choose some tasks and schedule them the next day. If it’s not on a deadline anyway, do so.


  • For Category 2 (important but not urgent), schedule a maximum number of 5 tasks from this list to do daily, with the task’s deadline in mind. Make sure to make some allowance for Murphy’s Law (everything that can go wrong will go wrong), if it’s a really important task.


  • For Category 3 (urgent but not important), if a task on the list says “send email greetings to mom-in-law (ordered by wife) today,” do it after everything else in Category 1 has been done. Unless mom-in-law’s birthday is today and not emailing will mean World War 800, that is.


  • Finally for Category 4 (not important nor urgent): Yes, you can live without checking MySpace (or your blog or whatever) today. So turn off your computer, take a bath, snuggle next to the wife, and rest well. For tomorrow, you’re doing another Category 1 list again.


Simple, right? Now, all you need is the willpower to stick to the list and learn to realize that not checking MySpace today will not result in severe stomach ulcers.