Eisenhower matrix and you have your priorities under control
Life speeds up. You used to think that things couldn’t run any faster. Wrong. Our lives today are very complex and everything around us is very dynamic. We are burdened with more and more tasks, we have more and more to do in a shorter time. Tasks are piling up. Problems are cumulative. In addition, it seems to us that time has sped up. At some point it becomes obvious that we are not able to complete all tasks. You have to choose which to do and which to delegate. You must manage your tasks wisely and prioritize correctly. Find out what the Eisenhower Matrix is.
But is it so bad?
Generally speaking, the statement that you are out of time is not entirely true. We keep telling ourselves that we don’t have time to spend the afternoon with our family, play sports, read books or take a short walk. However, these are only excuses, and talking about lack of time is more than that. Each of us has 24 hours a day, the same as others, but we have it differently. I will repeat myself. There is a need for good time management to carry out your tasks efficiently.
Dwight David Eisenhower
Who is Dwight David Eisenhower? I think that most of you can answer this question more or less precisely. A graduate of West Point, an American general, Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Forces during World War II. And finally the winner of the 1952 presidential election. He is the president for two terms. The question is how D. Eisenhower coped with a successful 50-year military career, with a victory in World War II, and how he won the most important position in the USA. The key seems to be proper time management.
The Eisenhower matrix
The Eisenhower matrix is sometimes referred to as the priority matrix or Eisenhower square. Legend speaks that Eisenhower, in command of the troops during World War II, dealt with all, even relatively minor matters. Once, one of his officers asked him what was to be cooked for dinner today. It was then that he realized that he was dealing with too many small, unimportant matters. He decided to classify all matters and evaluate which should be done earlier, later and which should be delegated. This is how the matrix named after him supposedly came into being, although it is probably just a legend.
This matrix is a great tool for managing your own time. Some of you have heard about it, but you can’t use it properly (unfortunately I have to say it). Time is an important variable. As mentioned, we have 24 hours a day, but how we use it is another side of the coin. There is a difference between what we want to do and what we do. Hence, the phrase “I do not have time” in 95% means only a certain opinion about it, not a fact. Following this path, having a large number of cases, we must decide, and I will repeat again, which things are to be done first and which are to be delegated later.
And here comes the tool: the Eisenhower matrix
How does it work?
The Eisenhower matrix aggregates cases according to two criteria: importance and urgency. So things can, or should, be divided into:
- not urgent
and also at the same time:
- not important,
This is the “clue” of the Eisenhower matrix – two dimensions: urgency and importance. In the matrix (table below), you should put your tasks depending on these two variables. This is what the Eisenhower matrix is.
And now the question of interpretation. What are important and urgent matters. In general, important matters are of high importance, while urgent matters are those that must be dealt with quickly. That’s all.
How to interpret the individual quadrants?
By assigning individual tasks to individual quarters, a certain map of tasks is created. What each field means:
- The first quarter (I) is urgent and important. The tasks described in it should be done by yourself and as soon as possible. There is very little time for their implementation. For example, these may be breakdowns at home that must be removed immediately, accidents that prevent work, for example, in a factory.
- The second quadrant (II) identifies tasks that are not urgent but important. They are important but not urgent. These can be all kinds of non-urgent meetings with clients, but also with family and friends. How to interpret them about it in a moment.
- The third quadrant (III) indicates urgent but unimportant tasks. What should I do with them? Delegate. For example, these may be unimportant, but urgent emails or nkind of phone calls that should be responded to immediately.
- Finally, the quarter (IV). It includes non-urgent and unimportant tasks. Personally, I think that such tasks can be ignored (or delegated), and made at least not disturbing.
Where is the difficulty?
Actually, the matter seems simple. We have a matrix with individual tasks entered into it. The diagram shows that the most urgent and most important ones are performed, i.e. first from quarter I, then from quarter II. There is only one “but”. Your brain doesn’t work that way, at least until we train it. Subconsciously, our brains would only like to do urgent things. This is his first instinct because it generates the greatest emotional response. This means that it focuses on quadrants I and III. Research shows that 23% of their time is spent on unimportant activities that require immediate attention. There is then no time to act in the second quarter.
In fact, we should focus on the tasks in quarter II, trying to ensure that the tasks in it do not NEVER end up in the first quarter. To put it even simpler. You should focus on important, not necessarily urgent matters. They can cause problems when they reach quadrant I. In reality, however, people, statistically speaking, often skip the tasks of quarter II in favor of the tasks of quarter III.
Most important and less important tasks
A large part of the tasks that appear in the first quarter are the tasks that came to it from the second quarter. So this means that if we leave important tasks without proper control, then it will drift towards the first quarter. When such a task becomes as urgent as possible, stress arises and the need for immediate action appears. I know that you feel best what the consequences are.
The conclusion is simple. We should avoid the tasks from the third and fourth quarters, preferably delegate them. When dealing with unimportant but urgent matters, we waste time planning what is really important, but not necessarily urgent now. So, summing up:
- tasks from quarter I – if there are any you have to take care of them in the first and immediately,
- tasks from quarter II – deal with them every day (of course, if you do not have tasks in quarter I),
- matters from quarter III – delegate – importantly, right away,
- quarter IV matters – ignore or delegate.
Summing up all the considerations, each of us has only 24 hours a day. We have to allocate them properly to various activities. The Eisenhower matrix and the principles on which it is based, despite the fact that it is a commonly known tool, is not widely used, I emphasize it is widely and effectively used. An important problem is to distinguish urgent matters from important ones, and it is common to consider urgent matters to be important and vice versa.
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