The omnipresent rush along with the constant attempts to make the most of every moment, make us feel that sooner or later we lose control. How many times have you felt that your to-do list is overwhelming you, and from a helpful tool it has become a nightmare? How to effectively take control of the chaos and start managing tasks? What is the Eisenhower matrix and how to use it? Read on.
The Eisenhower matrix – table of contents:
- Why is Eisenhower considered a role model?
- Urgent is not important, and important is not urgent
- The Eisenhower matrix
- Important and urgent
- Important, but not urgent
- Urgent, but not important
- Not important and not urgent
- How to use the Eisenhower matrix?
Why is Eisenhower considered a role model?
Dwight D. Eisenhower was a military general and 34th President of the United States. However, he is not just known for being someone important. He is considered one of the most productive people in history, and after his death his productivity and efficiency became the subject of numerous discussions. During his two terms in office, he completed and implemented many valuable procedures that have made the world what it is today. Interestingly, Eisenhower managed to remain productive throughout his whole life.
That’s why many researchers, including Covey, fascinated by his life, tried to explore what his secret was. In his book “7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” he translated Eisenhower’s idea into a simple tool that makes prioritizing easier. The key is to distinguish between urgent and important things.
Urgent is not important, and important is not urgent
This is a paraphrase of a thought that guided Eisenhower and is what helped him reach the top productivity. Just how to tell important and urgent tasks apart? These two words often function as synonyms in our dictionary, but in this case they are completely different.
Urgent tasks are those that require you to respond immediately. They are emergency events outside your planned schedule which await action. Urgent tasks are the culprits of chaos in your daily life, a dose of stress and frustration. Important tasks, on the other hand, are long-term, planned activities. They require regular work, but consequently lead to significant changes. They are important projects and fundamental activities. These are the things that make you feel that you are being proactive and that your actions make sense.
Distinguishing between urgent and important things is one of the main difficulties. This is mainly due to the fact that there is no clear method or definition that can determine which tasks are important and which are urgent. Here it is necessary to practice and take a moment to think about the activity in question. Grasping the difference is not so obvious at the beginning and can cause a lot of problems. However, only at the beginning. After a longer analysis, you will certainly come to the conclusion which of the activities is urgent and which is important for you or your business.
The Eisenhower matrix
The Eisenhower matrix is a tool that both companies and individuals can successfully use to plan daily tasks and prioritize them. This makes it definitely easier to plan their implementation and assess what really matters and what is worth focusing on. It is a simple tool that divides activities into four categories:
- Important and urgent – tasks to be completed immediately
- Important, but not urgent – tasks to be scheduled for later
- Urgent, but not important – tasks that can be delegated to others
- Not important and not urgent – tasks to be skipped, ignored
Important and urgent
These are tasks that require you to respond immediately. Those that you should finish as soon as possible and be able to move on. These are tasks that come up suddenly, but must be done, as failure to do so can cause disruption to further work.With proper planning, the list of tasks in this quadrant will not be long and will really be a list of urgent issues.
On the other hand, for those who mismanage their time and do not plan their work regularly, the list will be much longer. An example? If you have scheduled regular doctor’s appointments, blood tests, and take care of a healthy diet and an adequate amount of exercise every day, any illnesses that make you indisposed will really be rare, and most people will completely protect themselves from them by taking preventive measures.
Important, but not urgent
This is the place for important tasks that do not have a specific deadline. They are usually related to family, professional or self-development goals. In fact, they are very important and you think about them all the time, but they are not stressful and patiently wait for implementation.
However, this does not mean that they should always be put on the back burner. In the bigger picture, it is their realization that determines the most. They affect the quality of our lives, so it’s worth devoting much time to these tasks. Completing them requires a lot of self-denial. It is even more difficult when you are overwhelmed by daily matters, and also because you do not get an immediate “reward” for them. Long-term activities require a great-deal of self-awareness.
Urgent, but not important
These are tasks that are waiting in line for completion. However, they are not so important that you have to carry them out alone. This means that you can successfully assign them to other team members, and the end result will be virtually the same. Only by making the extra time, will you have the capacity to complete the priorities without putting off the other tasks.
Not important and not urgent
These are activities that are time eaters and promote procrastination. These are tasks that should be ignored. If there are too many of them in your life, once you eliminate them, you will definitely see a difference and find that you have more time. Such activities include socializing, coffee breaks or scrolling the Internet and social media.
Are these time eaters? Certainly. However, that doesn’t mean they should completely disappear from your life. They are moments of relaxation that help you unwind after intense mental work and are essential for maintaining a healthy balance. But when you analyze your day and see that they take up too much of your time, that should be a clear signal for you to change.
How to use the Eisenhower matrix?
This tool is great for both planning a single day’s work and long-term projects. It is an effective time management aid that helps you arrange individual tasks. Consequently, it will definitely be easier for you to complete a given project. Once you’ve created a concrete list, you can also use other methods of task management.
While this is certainly not a perfect method and it won’t work for everyone, it has one huge advantage. Often you find that only writing out all the activities helps you see which ones are actually unimportant, and which ones you can successfully delegate to co-workers. In a world where chaos surrounds us and it’s getting harder and harder to stay completely focused, eliminating distractions is a good start in the pursuit of success.
You’ve just learned what the Eisenhower matrix is. Read also: How to start dropshipping on Amazon.