Time Management: The Eisenhower Matrix
“What is important is seldom urgent, and what is urgent is seldom important ”- Dwight D. Eisenhower.
Do you often look back on your work day and think “what did I actually get done today?” Some days, it feels as though you have been working at a very productive pace. You were juggling multiple projects all day, and did not even leave your desk for lunch, yet somehow, despite your efforts, you still haven’t met your deadlines. If this sounds all too familiar, you may want utilise the Eisenhower Matrix.
Eisenhower was known to be excellent at managing his time. No matter what the task, he was able to complete it on time, in the required fashion. With the Eisenhower Matrix, you can easily prioritise your tasks, manage your time and decrease your stress levels.
Categorise your tasks into these four categories:
- Urgent and important (tasks you will do immediately)
- Important, but not urgent (tasks you will schedule a time to do later)
- Urgent, but not important (tasks you will delegate to someone else)
- Neither urgent nor important (tasks that you will do later or delete all together)
But how do we place our tasks into these categories?
In order to use the matrix correctly, you must understand the difference between what is important and what is urgent. When we have a lot on our plate, it is very easy to get caught up, subconsciously viewing every task as urgent. This will not only increase your stress levels, but you will also produce work of a lower standard as you are giving each task less attention than they require.
Important tasks are ones that will ultimately assist in achieving your long term goals. These include things like the new company venture, rebranding your business or writing a book.
Urgent tasks on the other hand are things that need an immediate reaction, such as phone calls, meetings, emails and things with impending deadlines.
Once you have placed your tasks within the four categories, you will easily be able to determine what tasks do not require your attention at all, or what could be delegated to someone else. The hard part is accomplishing your urgent tasks, while still having time to complete your important tasks. Urgent tasks are always going to present themselves, which can often push your important tasks further and further back on your to do list. The way to avoid this is to set deadlines for your important tasks. Start breaking them down into smaller tasks, and give each of these a deadline. The closer your deadline gets, the more urgent the task becomes.
By implementing a deadline, you will start to see your important/ not urgent tasks slowly start to appear in your important/ urgent task box. This way, you are achieving your urgent tasks, while also getting around to your important tasks.
By using the Eisenhower Matrix, you will be able to eliminate the behaviours that waste time and take up mental energy, leaving room for you to be more productive.
Download your Eisenhower Matrix template: