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The “Sorting Hat” Productivity Strategy for Entrepreneurs

With so many decisions to make in a day, we entrepreneurs need strategies to sort through the daily avalanche of requests and diversions. The urgent vs. important dilemma. We’ve all been there too many times. Getting totally distracted by urgent interruptions and missing some truly important decisions. There’s so much to do to just keep it all moving in the right direction and get things done.

(1) The Sorting Hat Method

Here’s what I do. Every morning, I plan my day with that simple organizing tool - a 2 over 2 four-cell matrix with Urgent/Not Urgent across the top (x axis), and Important/Not Important down the left side (y axis). Some call this the Eisenhower matrix. Harry Potter fans would call it the “sorting hat.”

Everything on my TO DO list goes in the matrix. Urgent/Important in the upper left quadrant are items that I need to do first. Usually my Urgent/Important block is actually quite a small list and any of these crises are already at the top of my “to do” list anyway.

Not urgent/Not important items in the lower right quadrant are trashed. After throwing those out and because my list just got smaller, I take a deep breath, just for inspiration. (Anxiety sometimes makes me hold my breath.) I find that breathing is good to do every day.

And you know what - I find that lots of those Urgent tasks that could take up all my time, go into my Urgent but Not important quad. If I can, I delegate those. Or set them aside for a bit to see how urgent they really are.

(2) A Productive Habit

One key block that needs to be handled a bit differently is the Not Urgent/Important quad in the upper right, those critical long-term planning and goal definition activities. These need to be scheduled to be sure they get proper attention, but they need a different sort of mind space.

Sometimes simply filling out the four-block TO DO matrix is all I need to remind me to set aside time in my day for the Not Urgent but Important planning tasks in the lower left quadrant. These are my long-range visions and goals. Lately, I’ve been scheduling time for a walk (gotta fit in some exercise too) where I can breathe some fresh air, change my scenery, relax my body and let my mind wander. Let the right-brain creativity kick in. Some Not Urgent but Important decisions don’t necessarily lend themselves to a logical, left brain approach. Rather my right brain associative, problem-solving mind can sometimes provide new ways of thinking. But learning how to engage both left brain and right brain to make hard decisions is another blog.

Posted on 09 Oktober 2018 by:

Janet Ahlgren

A serial entrepreneur, Janet is passionate about helping small businesses by applying her extensive experience in creative direction, strategy, marketing, and business operations. Her deep knowledge in multiple industries such as multimedia, emergency management, financial services, healthcare, government and high technology provides the background for her planning, problem solving and execution for large and small projects. Her international experience implementing software projects provides the backdrop for helping companies envision and execute their growth despite the challenges of multiple regulatory environments.

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