8 Tips for Finding More Time

17 Apr

Urgent Important Grid

There are two methodologies which I have used for many years that are easy to remember. I hope you find some wisdom here that can be easily applied to your life!

T.R.A.F – every email (or paperwork) should fall into one of four categories:

T is for Toss – The easiest route to cleaning out your email is deleting them (or unsubscribing).

R is for Refer – Immediately forward the email with a request for someone else to act on it. Next step, delete.

A is for Act – If it’s clearly intended for your response or consumption, then attempt to reply to it immediately (placing the onus back on the sender for action). The two systems I have for the emails I can’t immediately work on – (a) I put it on my calendar (an easy click and slide from inbox to calendar) or (b) I print it up. Both are easy memory devices for taking care of it in the near future. Worst case scenario, I leave it in my inbox.

F is for File – I have an elaborate folder setup in my Gmail, but the great thing is that I can always go back and find it. If it’s an FYI that doesn’t require you to act, why are you leaving it in your inbox?

The worst emails are the trivial ones that you have to touch more than once. I often fail to keep a clean inbox and on many Friday afternoons, I have to sift back through the messages. Once a month, I sit at my desk for an evening until everything has fallen into one of the T.R.A.F. buckets. If it’s a short stack, I’m rewarded with an evening in front of a movie. Can you see the bottom of your inbox?

The second system is based around a Stephen Covey original with four more categories:

I. Urgent, Important – Fire!

II. Urgent, Not Important – Diamonds

III. Not Urgent, Important – Bla

IV. Not Urgent, Not Important – Waste

I believe most of us know how to handle the Fires and Waste. The problem is that the Diamonds in category III (Important, Not Urgent) should be your second priority. Unfortunately, the deceiving Bla in category II (Urgent, Not Important) are typically done first (emails, phone calls, your personal stuff that creeps into your work day). The Diamonds are critical. Your success in staying on top of them is fundamental for your success at work and play.

Whether you are looking at your day’s responsibilities, short-term goals or the bigger picture, focus on getting the Important Diamonds completed before you get to the Bla and worry about the Waste. If you aren’t identifying them as they happen, periodically write down your activities and goals to figure out which box they fall.

Make every day count!

~Drew Schmitz





Twitter: @drew_schmitz

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