- Posted by Nigel Edelshain
- On March 27, 2015
There’s so much to do.
There seems to be no limit to what you can do as marketer. In fact, there always seems to be another idea from one of my colleagues of how we could do more marketing in one area or another. I suspect your world is similar.
Given everything you could do. What should you do? Which project should you work on next? (And when do you get to do something for yourself, like call a friend or get your car washed—mine is still covered in salt?)
Four types of stuff
The chart has four quadrants. The idea is to spend your time in quadrants 1 and 2 doing things that are important (to you) and not in the “not important” quadrants.
On a day-to-day basis, I find it’s quadrant 3 that is most likely to trip me up and drag me away from the important stuff. In fact, the ability of the world to trip me up has grown exponentially since Covey wrote this book in 1994.
I need your attention now!
It’s fairly easy to avoid quadrant 4 where the “Not Urgent” and “Not important” tasks dwell. You probably don’t do too many “escape” activities like reading your friends’ Facebook posts at work (you don’t do you?) Or at least you probably do them by accident and then you pull yourself together pretty quickly.
The toughest quadrant for diligent people is quadrant 3. This is the quadrant that many emails pull us into. I’m guessing that many of the emails you receive purport to be urgent and important too. But are they? Are they really important? Often the answer is “no”.
These days marketers have many other quadrant 3 gremlins to dodge. So many social media posts need posting, so many eblasts need sending and so many blog posts need writing (!) But are these time-sucking activities important? Do they contribute to moving your key goals forward? Are they better than the other work you could be doing instead?
Lining up to the runway
But what’s important anyway?
Knowing what’s important to you in the moment is key. You cannot judge whether an email you receive or a project you are contemplating doing next is important if you do not know what important is to you.
You need to think about and define “important” to you personally before the heat of the workday begins.
In his book Getting Things Done David Allen defines 6 levels of perspective for deciding what tasks are important. His levels are:
- 50,000 + feet: “Life”
- 40,000 feet: your 2-5 year vision
- 30,000 feet: your 1-2 year goals
- 20,000 feet: your areas of responsibility
- 10,000 feet: your current projects
- Runway: your current tasks
I use David’s Getting Things Done framework every day as I explain in this post.
In my day-to-day I use project lists extensively to decide which tasks to work on in the moment. I’ve also taken some time every now and then to think about “life” and once in a blue moon what my plan might look like for the next few years. Finding time to do this is not easy and it is an lopsided struggle to try any of this off while sitting at my office desk—phones ringing and emails piling up. (Apparently Bill Gates used to go to a cabin in the woods for a couple of weeks for this kind of thing.)
In my experience 6 levels is rather too complicated. I’ve never gotten to the point of defining my life in such detail. I’ve probably defined about 4 levels at best. So if this seems too much to you, I’d suggest trying to define a couple of levels first and go from there.
Is this important?
Once you’ve thought through a couple of your “higher altitude levels”, you’re in a place where you can judge whether the task or project you’re about to do is “important”.
You can ask yourself questions like “Does this task move forward a project that will bring me closer to my 1-2 year goals? “
Assuming you’ve thought about your goals and lined them up with your vision for your life then if this task brings you closer to your goals then it’s “important”. If it doesn’t then it’s not important.
Send it to the DEA
DEA is my corruption of Tim Ferriss’ acronym for getting to a “4 hour workweek”. (I also like it because I’ve watched all of Breaking Bad.)
DEA is a great way to handle all your “not important” tasks. You can read more about this in my previous post but the overview is:
- Delegate (D): Delegate all your “not important” tasks to someone else
- Eliminate (E): If this task is truly “not important”, can you just not do it or design things in future so this kind of task does not exist in your work/life?
- Automate (A): Can this task be done by a machine? Perhaps you can find a program that will do this job or at least make it much faster. There seems to be an app for everything these days.
If you need some help getting your marketing projects done, Wainscot is here to help. We have a team of writers, editors, designers and developers ready to take things off your plate. Just call us the DEA!