Personal Development

Five Categories of Time

From Workstyle (which unfortunately requires an account in order to post comments), The Pentachronic Time Scale talks about the five categories of time in which to do a task.

  1. now
  2. sooner
  3. whenever
  4. later
  5. never

It’s a simple post, but it sure gets you thinking! How many tasks should be in the first category? How many Someday/Maybe projects are sticking around on your list of things to do that shouldn’t be there? And what should be put under the last category that you don’t currently have there?

Do you have a quick task that isn’t being done Now? Are you going to do it Sooner or Later?

Have you been worrying about an uncompleted task? Nothing can be more tiring, but maybe you can decide that it isn’t worth doing. Problem solved! No more stress! No more fatigue! If it is worth doing, then you should decide when to do it. Then do it!

2 replies on “Five Categories of Time”

I also really like the importance matrix from, I think, Stephen Covey’s book. Ask if a task is urgent and if it is important. Do things that are urgent AND important first. Important, but not urgent, comes second (equiv to sooner). Urgent but not important comes third and tasks that are unimportant and not urgent should be in the never category. I think most of us can tell what is urgent, but it is a lot harder to say what is truly important, and it is really easy to fall into the trap of putting out a constant stream of fires. I find that happening at work all the time, especially when there are a lot of people who are in the “everything is urgent” mode vying for my time.

That’s very true. One flaw in my current list of tasks is that they are all jumbled together so I can’t take a quick look and tell you what is most important for me to do. I’ve tried compensating by using circles around checkboxes and asterisks, which helps a little by showing me which tasks can be and should be done together, but I know I could do better.

While I have read Covey’s books, I haven’t used that importance matrix before. It might be a good time to start. B-)

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