What is it? It’s a method or framework on how to organize your to-do lists for the most productive and efficient life you can make for yourself. Eisenhower once said, “What is important is seldom urgent, and what is urgent is seldom important.” What are the differences between important and urgent? Important things are anything or any task that brings you closer to reaching your dreams, wishes, and goals in your own life. These are the things that matter in your life and take into account your values. Urgent tasks, on the other hand, are things that need your attention right now. Things that may be classified as urgent maybe an email from your boss, a note from school that your child has been acting up, a fire in the kitchen, or an audit letter from the IRS. What makes the Eisenhower Matrix stand out is that it’s a lesson in not confusing what is important with what is urgent, because as he quoted, the two are seldom exclusive to one another. In our minds, however, it’s easy for us to forget and combine the two and therefore give them way more weight than they deserve when we break down these two different classes on a sheet in a “matrix” and place them into four categories to help us prioritize each of these tasks.
So how do you use the Eisenhower Matrix in your life and with your tasks? The four categories to place all of your tasks into are, “Do Right Now,” “Set Time to Do,” “Assign to Others, “Remove Entirely.” The image above is a visual representation of how you could place each of your tasks. Do Right Now category are the fires, the calls from school, the drop everything and handle this assignment from your boss, or other income-producing activities that need to happen now. “Set Time to Do” items are not urgent, but they are still important. Spending quality time with family and friends, self-improvement by reading or learning a new skill or checking out my blogs are examples of these. Exercising and your long-term goal tasks would be here in the “Set Time to Do” category as well. Assign to Others are tasks that you can delegate to someone else or delegate to another time. “We accomplish all that we do through delegation, either to time or to other people” a quote from Stephen Covey. Finally, the last category, one that I think most everyone spends too much time doing. The, “Remove Entirely” category where we should eliminate. Sometimes you can incorporate some of these items with your quality time, but in general, these tasks eat up our time and make us both unproductive and feel like we never have enough time to finish what we need to complete. Spending time on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Netflix, Candy Crush or any other of the thousands of games out there. These are the real-time sucks.
Start to concentrate on the tasks that you are working on at this moment. Ask yourself, “Is what I am doing right now falling into a category the Do Right Now or Set Time to Do?” If not, maybe you should assign the work to others or not do the task at all? When you categorize all that you are working on in this way, you will find that you can handle your workload more efficiently. You also have to carve out with prejudice time every day for your category “Set Time to Do” items. These things may not be urgent, but they are, and that’s why you have to make time for these items. Otherwise, you may not do them if you didn’t make the time for them in your day.
My wish is for a more productive you!