The one thing which I have realised that we tend to include every task in our urgency list and treat all of them equal. This strategy mentally tire us and our important tasks are treated same as the other usual tasks in our Todoist . To optimise the productivity ‘Eisenhower Matrix’ is a great tool. Eisenhower Method, which today helps us prioritize by urgency and importance. The Eisenhower principles of planning, prioritizing, delegating, and scheduling you will start to see the right things to do in order to achieve your goals and be more productive.
What is the Eisenhower Matrix?
The Eisenhower Matrix, also referred to as Urgent-Important Matrix, helps you decide on and prioritize tasks by urgency and importance, sorting out less urgent and important tasks which you should either delegate or not do at all.
How to use the Eisenhower Matrix
The Eisenhower Matrix (sometimes called the Eisenhower Box or Eisenhower Decision Matrix) is an easy, yet an extremely effective way to prioritize and manage tasks and your time.
It is a system that basically makes you separate all your activities into four priority levels, one of which (Not Important/Not Urgent) is immediately dropped, so really it’s only three categories of attention-worthy tasks to focus on (see the picture below).
- “Important” and “Urgent” tasks. These receive the highest priority level and should be your primary focus to complete as soon as possible (most often on the same day).
- “Important”, but “Not Urgent” tasks. These are the long-term goals and tasks that are important but don’t have a firm deadline yet. You should schedule them in a timely manner, doing the most urgent ones right after you’ve finished everything from the “Do” quadrant.
- “Not Important”, but “Urgent” tasks. These tasks are the ones you can delegate to other professionals or appoint to complete yourself if you must, but only after your first and second quadrant tasks are completed.
- “Not Important” and “Not Urgent” tasks. The tasks are placed in the “Delete” quadrant because you should eliminate doing them. This may vary due to the perception of urgency and importance, but mainly these tasks don’t even need to be done and would be considered a complete waste of time by most people.
The “Do” Quadrant ;
The first quadrant “Do” as these tasks are very important and just need to be done preferably on the same day and not later than the next day. These are the tasks that need to be done in order to avoid negative consequences. Examples of the “Do” quadrant would be crises, deadlines, urgent problems. These are usually the most time and energy consuming tasks of the day. You know- the ones you really don’t want to start due to the amount of energy you’ll have to invest in them…
- You should use Mark Twain’s Eat the frog first principle for this kind of tasks. This works because you’re more likely to enjoy completing the next item on your list once you have completed the first one. Also, it is a great way to discipline yourself and gain higher self-respect when you acknowledge the completion of the hardest to-do item.
- The tasks on the “Do” quadrant are important and urgent after all, so start with them and you’ll see how easy everything else will seem much easier to carry out after completing them.
- A great way to make sure you execute on these tasks is to use Pomodoro technique, which would help you focus on the task more productively. Read more about Pomodoro technique here.
- You need to dedicate one place in your app or in a planner where you will write down your “Do” tasks daily to make planning wisely a habit that sticks.
The “Decide” Quadrant ;
The second quadrant of The Eisenhower Matrix we call “Decide“. These tasks are important but less urgent.
Efficient time managers leave fewer things unplanned and therefore try to manage most of their work in the second quadrant, reducing stress by terminating urgent and important to-dos to a reasonable date in the near future whenever a new task comes in.
Remember – only because these are not considered as urgent doesn’t mean you shouldn’t schedule realistic deadlines, so make sure to set yourself a fair time estimate.
- You should organize and plan tasks like this into your daily/weekly to-do lists.
The “Delegate” Quadrant ;
The third quadrant like this because the tasks are less important to you than to others but still pretty urgent. These are tasks that technically you could do yourself, but suggesting a better person for the job means improved teamwork and more time for you to complete the tasks from the first two quadrants.
- You should keep track of delegated tasks by telephone, e-mail or within a meeting to check on their progress later. Delegating without a tracking option is as worthless as not doing the task at all because in the end nobody could be held accountable. And no business needs tasks piling up without anyone taking care of them.
- There are many task and time management tools available nowadays that could help you with tracking the progress.
The “Delete” Quadrant ;
The last quadrant is called “Delete” because it makes you consider the things you should not be doing at all and “delete” themfrom your daily/weekly routine.
Discover and stop the bad habits that basically are a complete waste of time and do not make you productive. These are real time-wasters, such as surfing the internet without a reason or spending time on not important and not urgent emails.
- Set out specific times during the day when you will check emails, answer phone calls or any other incoming correspondence (unless you work in customer service, where these tasks fall into the category of “Do”). And don’t do any of these tasks outside of the set timings.
Guidelines for using The Eisenhower Matrix:
- Make to-do lists. This frees your mind from constant memorization. Plus, this way you’ll hold yourself accountable for the tasks you have prioritized on.
- Set a limit of tasks you can include in one quadrant. We love working with a formula of no more than 8 tasks per quadrant.
- Always question what is worth doing first. Use Mark Twain’s Eat the frog first principle for tasks from the “Do” and “Decide” quadrants. Eating the frog first will give you tremendous energy and momentum.
- Use the Pomodoro technique to make the most of your workday. Focus on one task only during one Pomodoro session.
- Plan in the evening before and review early in the morning, then work on your stuff.
- Eliminate distractions. Do not let others define your priority. Good headphones can block out ambient noise. If your co-workers are ignoring boundaries status lights would be a good idea.
- Use tools to help you stay off the bad habits, such as social media blocking tools to stop you from browsing during the working hours.
- Keep track of the tasks you delegate to others to see the progress with the help of task and time management tools.
- Finally, try not to procrastinate that much. Not even by over-managing your to-dos.
I found this matrix to be helpful because as a framework I can visualise the importance of each task. It allows me to make a conscious decision on what to focus on. Concerning with long term goals, this matrix provides an advantage of creating an overview and narrowing down on areas of procrastination.
Do follow the ‘JOE’s Life Skills Lab‘ and get yourself enrolled in my E – Mail Newsletter “ SUNDAY RETAZOS” sent exclusively to my subscribers with weekly updates on Mindful Productivity, life lessons and interesting articles I discover during the Week. I AM SURE YOU DO NOT LIKE TO MISS OUT ON THIS .
Get in touch… — JOE’s LIFE SKILLS LAB/Joe Sehrawat