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Stop being a slave to your marketing schedule and start getting things done. In the book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, there is a small chart nestled within the pages that holds a vast amount of wisdom. It’s a simple chart with four quadrants that represent how we as marketers spend our days.

urgent important

As a marketer you have things that must be done every day, and that’s just the way things are. However, we can get caught in the wrong quadrants of this chart for far too long and see our productivity and quality drop. Here’s how where you should spend time to stop wasting precious hours on marketing.

1 Quadrant 1: These are the things that your boss hands to you expecting completion within hours. These items must be done now and they are vital to your job, however, they can also waste your time.

Dropbox investor Paul Graham classifies two types of people, those who work around meetings and those who work around tasks. If you are a task-oriented person with lots to do, quadrant one can kill your time.

You’ve got to learn how you can accomplish tasks without letting quadrant one items go unfinished. Graham recommends setting aside time in the morning and afternoon to work on tasks uninterrupted by quadrant one items and then be prepared for interruptions the rest of the day.

2. Quadrant 2: These are the things that make you a great marketer if done right. They don’t need to be done right now, but they are vital. Items in this quadrant include really long blog posts, infographics, and interactive content.

Quadrant two is where your content pillars will come from, these are the pieces of content on your site that continually drive sales months and years after publishing. If you don’t learn to manage your time and make room for quadrant two, these pieces will never be produced.

To maximize time spent on quadrant two, set goals for completion on long-running projects and stick to them. If necessary, set aside 33 minute blocks of time (an optimal period for concentrating), and knock out a little bit every day.

3. Quadrant 3: Necessary, but not key to success. Sure, it’s important to stay in contact with people who mention you on twitter, but that shouldn’t take precedent over your projects.

It’s quite easy to fall into a sinkhole of focusing on quadrant three, and the scary thing about it is this quadrant really feels like work when you’re doing it. Checking your rankings or going over Google Analytics seems productive, but it’s not truly important to your work.

To minimize time spent in quadrant three, write down your list of priorities for each week, and if you find yourself spending a lot of time doing things that feel productive but aren’t on the list, you are probably in quadrant three.

4. Quadrant 4: This is the facebook zone. Mark Zuckerburg built a massive business off of sucking people into quadrant four, and he’s after you too. The absolute worst part about quadrant four is that it’s addictive, our brains are actually trained to get distracted.

To stay focused, and re-orient back to quadrant one or two, use tools like rescuetime and minimize the number of screens you have at your disposal.

A study found that we have an attention span of just sixty seconds online, and that number drops dramatically when there is more than one connected screen at our disposal. Unfortunately there’s not a sure-fire way to avoid distraction, and the best thing to do is take preventative measures.

If you live in the wrong quadrants, time will fly by without any real progress happening, and the worst part is you might not even realize it. Focus on staying in quadrant two to get real work done without wasting your time.

How do you manage your time to accomplish big tasks? I would love to discuss in the comments.

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