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LawBiz® TIPS – Week of August 22, 2017

Prioritization: How and Where to Spend Your Time for Future Success

Time is a precious, rare commodity for many lawyers. Unfortunately, "harried" is the way that many lawyers would describe themselves. The key is to create a plan of attack.

In the Urgent-Important-Trivial Model, developed by Stephen Covey, author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, the four quadrants for prioritization are as follows:

  1. Urgent and important
  2. Important but not urgent
  3. Urgent but not important
  4. Trivial/busywork

The first quadrant, in terms of time, is doing what is urgent: it's what comes across our desk that we have to get done and get it done now even though we didn't expect it. The second quadrant is what we want to do - and should do - for our long-term benefit, but we can't always do it because we're immersed in quadrant one. The third quadrant includes urgent but unimportant items. Finally, the last quadrant is trivial stuff, such as shuffling paper - oftentimes, we do that stuff just to keep busy because we just don't want to deal with quadrant two.

We spend most of our time on quadrant one because those items must be done and done now instead of on the second quadrant, the most important quadrant for future success. We spend much of our time on quadrant one because we allow ourselves to let deadlines creep up on us or we allow other people to set our priorities. In other words, we do not properly control the "urgent" factor.

Most of us would agree that we can't change the fact that we must do what we have to do before we can do what's important to us. But what we can change is the number of incidences of urgent matters crossing our desks. In order to change that dynamic, we need to organize and plan ahead. By doing so, time will become less rare - but still just as precious.



Prioritization: How and Where to Spend Your Time for Future Success

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