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Time management

Prioritising your tasks

You will need to prioritise different tasks as you juggle everything that's going on, especially at busy times when you have a lot of deadlines.

Make a list of the things you need to do, then decide whether they are important, urgent or both. This will help you decide what to do straight away.

Techniques for prioritising your tasks

Prioritise your tasks as follows:

  • Important and urgent? Do it now.
  • Not important but urgent? Do it soon.
  • Important but not urgent? Do it later.
  • Not important and not urgent? Don’t do it.
Matrix of importance and urgency

You could also use the two minute rule: if the task is only going to take two minutes then do it straight away, otherwise add it to your to-do list.

Some people prefer to use the 80/20 Pareto principle. This says that 80% of the results you get comes from 20% of the effort you put in, so make sure you focus on what's really important. So for example, rather than spending three hours in the Library reading four journal articles in detail, you could spend five minutes glancing through 10 articles to decide which is relevant, and then focus the rest of your time on the best two.

You can create paperless to-do lists using Microsoft To Do or Trello, online or downloaded as an app. They allow you to code tasks by priority and give them a deadline.