How many times has it happened in your daily life that you wake up to a perfect day and can do the things you wanted. If you are working for someone or under someone, this is probably a dream. Our days start with excellent planning, and at the end of the day, the plan goes for a toss. A ton of distractions and emergencies challenge you from all directions and what you planned for your perfect day turns messy in no time.
You are not alone here. Every one’s workday is full of unwarranted emergencies and unpredicted disruptions. But this can get overpowering if you don’t have a system or a method to separate the urgent and important ones from the others. Eisenhower matrix provides an excellent solution in deciding the ones to be done on priority than the ones that need to be ignored.
The Eisenhower Matrix:
34th President of the United States of America, Dwight Eisenhower was once an army general and a supreme commander of the Allied forces in World War II. During his service, Eisenhower had to make some tough choices in the midst of the war. Every day they were threatened by unforeseen challenges, and it was getting difficult for him to keep a focus on the tasks that lay ahead. So, he invented a matrix, known as the Eisenhower Matrix, to make decision making simple. The strategy behind the principle was to perform tasks based on its urgency and importance.
Eisenhower Matrix is famous today and has its presence in many modern management and productivity books. He introduced the concept of four quadrants for task allocation based on the priority of the tasks. The priority is determined by the urgency and importance of the tasks. Then the tasks of each quadrant are dealt separately.
The image below describes the fundamental Eisenhower matrix.
To take right decisions, let us look at the four quadrants of the matrix.
Quadrant 1- Urgent and Important:
The top left is the Quadrant 1 which we keep it for the ‘Do it first’ tasks. The tasks that are crucial and important to be attended immediately put them in this quadrant. The jobs can be small or big; you should list it by asking questions – Is it urgent? And is it important? It can be anything from replying an email, creating reports to filing taxes. So, set your priorities based on the need of the hour, day or the month.
You should be doing these tasks first before anything else. You can use these quadrants for decision making on your to-do list, personal list or anything that is stressing you and requires a concrete decision.
Quadrant 2 – Important but not Urgent
Quadrant 2 holds the top right corner of the matrix. It deals with things which are impactful to your life but can be attended in a while. They can be put in the backburner but not forever. These are critical tasks that will impact your work and life. So you can’t procrastinate over it. Q2 are your long-term tasks. The chances of ignoring these tasks are high, so beware of its importance in your life and career. Don’t put it on hold for long.
Quadrant 3 – Urgent but not Important
Quadrant 3 falls in the bottom left corner of the matrix. The tasks appear urgent, but they are not going to affect your performance or impact your work. But they are to be done urgently. The best possible way to handle these tasks is to delegate it or automate it.
Handling these tasks can be tricky as they overwhelm you due to its urgency but in hindsight, they benefit you the least. They create disruptions to your workflow and often tire you down for the day. Eisenhower matrix helps you to spot it quickly and since it is a task that you can’t ignore. Try to deal with it smartly. You can save a lot of time and money if you identify the Q3 tasks quickly.
Quadrant 4 – Not Important & Not Urgent
As the name suggests, it is best to ignore these or delete them from your list. The tasks which are not urgent and doesn’t add value to your future should have no place in your tasks list. The biggest procrastinators usually spend enormous time on these tasks with ease.
They are not even tasks. They are speed breakers on the way to your success. Some of the typical examples are watching television, chatting on your cell phone, engaging on social media platforms and participating on office gossips. If you ignore them, you can free up a lot of time to invest in better things.
It is also unfair to say that you shouldn’t be engaging in these activities at all. You can always do it at your leisure time. The Q4 tasks are useful to re-energize yourself. So try to look out for that perfect balance that it doesn’t hamper your most productive period.
So what are you waiting for? Grab a pen and paper and make your list of tasks. Use the Eisenhower matrix and allocate the jobs to its specific quadrant. Now, figure out how valuable it is for you.