Efficiency vs. Prioritization: Are You Really Good At Time Management?

FindWRK Team

Categories: Time Management

November 15, 2022

Getting a lot of work done is one thing - getting the right work done is another.

People who get a lot of work done every day see themselves as being productive and good at time management, but just because you’re efficient, doesn’t mean you’re prioritizing the right things. In this article we’ll dive into efficiency and prioritization along with some tips to elevate your time management.  

Efficiency > Prioritization

There’s one camp of people that are efficient at what they do but they fill up their time with low-impact busy work or administrative tasks which may bring a sense of accomplishment but don’t bring them closer to reaching their strategic goals. Is this good time management? Time management is about how you plan and exercise conscious control of the time you spend on activities, especially those that increase efficiency or productivity. So while you may be efficient and productive without prioritization, you may be dropping the ball when it comes to efficacy. 

It’s easy to get into this habit though, especially when you’re doing tasks you enjoy. If you feel motivated, you’re more likely to work longer hours and put in more effort to complete higher volumes of work. If you’re feeling unmotivated, consider what typically drives your motivation

Extrinsic motivation comes into play when you’re doing something for external rewards (e.g. more money, avoiding getting fired, etc.). Intrinsic motivation is when you’re doing something for the fun or the challenge of it rather than the products, pressures, or rewards that come with the completion of the task. If you can focus your energy on tasks that bring you intrinsic motivation, you may feel more motivated to complete them and thus, get more done in your day. 

Prioritization > Efficiency

The other camp of people put in the time to appropriately prioritize what they need to accomplish. They may not be as efficient or productive when taking this extra planning time, but the overall effectiveness is likely going to be higher as they’ll be able to identify high-impact activities and focus on what’s most important. Sometimes taking that time on a Sunday to do a weekly preview can free up even more time during the week. Some sample questions you can ask yourself include:

1. Can email take the place of any meetings this week?

2. Can any meetings this week be shortened by 15 mins?

3. Is there anything I can remove from my calendar?

4. Is there anything on my calendar I can automate or delegate?

Eisenhower Matrix

If you’re still struggling to prioritize, The Eisenhower Matrix is another great resource to use. It maps tasks on a grid with the axes of urgency and importance:

Not Urgent and Not Important? 

Does it really need to be done? Likely not. Eliminate the task. 

Not Urgent but Important? 

This is one of those tasks where it needs to get done but not today. Schedule it into your calendar for another time and hold yourself accountable to completing it at that later date.

Urgent but Not Important? 

Probably means you don’t need to be the one to do it. Delegate this task to a teammate. Even if it might be a bit challenging for them, provide them with some guidance and give them the chance to grow.

Urgent and Important? 

This is what you should be prioritizing. Drop what you’re doing and get it done. 

Set aside some time to create your own Eisenhower Matrix this week and group each of your tasks into one of the four buckets. You’ll be amazed at how much work you can get off your plate.

Now that you’ve reflected on efficiency and prioritization, and added some tools to your toolkit for managing your time, it’s time for you to go out there and take on the world— you’ve got this.