Ever allow meaningless tasks to drain your productivity and take over your time? You need to master the art of prioritising. It’s the cornerstone of solid time management. You want to start by being strict with your time and tackling the highest priority tasks first, but is this easier said than done?
In this blog post, Trent K., Risk Analyst at NASA, explains how he uses Mind Mapping software, iMindMap, in conjunction with Stephen Covey’s 4 Quadrants theory to manage his workload at NASA.
Due to his demanding workload, Trent has found that it is easy to become buried under the endless tasks in the queue. It takes preparation, organisation and analysis to ensure that his schedule is continually maintained and his time efficiency improved. Trent uses iMindMap to help him to do this.
“The software helps me to define and prioritise all of my work, both professional and personal.”
Stephen Covey’s 4 Quadrants explained…
Quadrant 1 (Q1) is for Urgent and Important items. These items are colour coded red and must be completed that day.
Quadrant 2 (Q2) is for Non-urgent but Important items.
Quadrant 3 (Q3) is for Urgent but Not Important items.
Quadrant 4 (Q4) is reserved for items that are Not Urgent and Not Important. Once identified as fitting in this quadrant, activities are not scheduled on the Mind Map as they are considered time-wasting. This ensures that time is only spent on the most important tasks.
Key: blue branches = personal items, black branches = professional items
In Quadrants 2 and 3, Trent colour codes his branches to differentiate between personal and professional tasks and this helps him to visually analyse how his time is spent.
At the beginning of each day, Trent completes the Quadrant template in iMindMap for the tasks for the coming day. Trent uses the MultiMaps feature in iMindMap to create several smaller maps on each page with each map referring to one specific quadrant. Each daily Mind Map as shown below is the potent, distilled result of identifying the important tasks to do that day.
As shown in the image above, the bottom right graphic represents a 24 hour clock which Trent uses to visually record how he spent his time during that day. The diagram is split into segments and provides an overview of how long Trent spent on certain tasks. In the centre of the circle, he records the date and day of the week and this diagram allows Trent to better prioritise his workload in future.
Combining iMindMap with Covey’s 4 Quadrants is an optimal way to maximise productivity and gain a clear picture of how your time is spent. Using iMindMap, you can easily make changes to your schedule and update your quadrants accordingly.
“iMindMap is the ideal tool to help me maintain a work-life balance which is necessary in my line of work. The software has helped me become more productive and efficient and has ultimately helped me become more focused at work. With my Mind Maps, I can keep things in perspective and modify my maps as and when my workload changes. It has been an invaluable tool.”
Trent’s favourite feature in iMindMap is…
“… the branch target. The ease at which branches can be added is critical during brainstorming. As quickly as an idea is presented, it can be recorded in iMindMap. It helps keep the imaginative and collaborative environment alive. ”
Trent’s most frequently used feature is…
“…the Presentation view. It’s a fantastic method to explain information to one or many people at once. It is very simple to use and very effective during meetings.”
Trent completes his Quadrant template daily so he can continue to analyse his productivity and make adjustments where necessary to boost his efficiency at NASA. Try prioritising your workload using iMindMap and see how much more productive you become in the office and at home.
Download the free trial of iMindMap here; the only Mind Mapping software endorsed by inventor of Mind Mapping, Tony Buzan.
What tips or methods do you use to manage your workload? Share your thoughts below…← How to create a Mind Map Howard Stern discusses Mind Mapping →