Some people struggle with productivity and feel like they don’t ever achieve enough in a day, while others thrive on it, ticking off tens of things on their footlong to-do list.
The Eisenhower Matrix: What is it and How Can it Help You Manage Your Time?
Enter the Eisenhower Matrix, otherwise known as the “Urgent-Important” principle. The Eisenhower Matrix is a way of thinking that will help you cut the superfluous out of your to-do list, and make sure you actually get the most important and urgent tasks done each day. Read on to learn how it can transform your productivity by not simply adding more and more to your list.
What is the Eisenhower Matrix?
The Eisenhower Matrix is a way of prioritization, productivity and time management that helps you differentiate between things that need to be done in the next few hours, and the things that could wait until next week, or in some cases, forever.
The name comes from the system’s father, Dwight D. Eisenhower, the 34th President of the United States. Understandably, he was in a position where he had hundreds of seemingly important things to do every day but had to find a way to get the most urgent and vital completed, but not become completely overwhelmed.
That’s why he created the Urgent-Important Principle. He needed a way to identify the tasks he needed to do, what could wait, what could be delegated, and what didn’t actually need doing at all.
How Does the Eisenhower Matrix Work?
The Eisenhower Matrix works by prioritizing your tasks into one of four categories:
- Urgent and important – these are the tasks you need to do immediately, that will help you reach your goals or avoid catastrophe.
- Important but not urgent – these are the tasks that need doing but aren’t urgent. You can schedule these for later.
- Not important, but urgent – these are the tasks you should delegate to others whenever possible. There are a lot of tasks that can go in this category, but often people are scared to relinquish their control over to someone else (which keeps them stuck).
- Not important and not urgent – these are the tasks that when you actually look at them, don’t need doing at all. These are often those temping time-sucks that is actually procrastination masquerading as productivity. Things like completely cleaning your email inbox or rearranging your Dropbox files.
What Benefits Does it Have? How Will it Help Me Manage My Time?
If you use the Eisenhower method accurately and honestly (don’t put tasks where they don’t belong!), it can be an incredible way to organize your daily schedule and manage your long-term goals.
One of the ways it will help you manage your time better is it will likely stop you being so busy. How? Well, “busy” is often a crutch for people who have become used to feeling rushed off their feet, but don’t know how to let go of tasks. Most people who are perpetually busy are (often unconsciously) choosing to stay that way by trying to get to unnecessary tasks or not learning to delegate.
If you have a procrastination problem (or just prefer to put off tasks you don’t want to do) the Eisenhower Matrix forces you to see those most urgent and important tasks and make them the first thing you do every day. Because you’ll start the day productively, the likelihood is you’ll finish the workday that way too.
So, why not try it for a week and see if it transforms your time management and productivity?