Eisenhower matrix for Prioritization: Urgent versus important
The main objective of this post is to show how using the Eisehower matrix for prioritization we can be more effective with our time.
Many times, we reach out to potential clients to see if they would like to have an exploratory conversation and they tell me that they are too busy. We act like being busy is a badge of honor that makes us look and feel important. From my point of view, it just means that we are poor at prioritizing our lives.
Everybody has the same amount of time. Do you have less time than Mark Zuckerberg? Richard Branson? Look at what they are accomplishing with the exact amount of time that you and I have (1)
How often do you think I do not have enough time, I wish the day would have more than 24 hours, or I am not able to comply with my deadlines?
When we feel overwhelmed, burned-out means it is time to stop and have some refection time.
Dwight D. Eisenhower was the 34th President of the United States from 1953 until 1961. Before becoming President, he served as a general in the United States Army and as the Allied Forces Supreme Commander during World War II. He also later became NATO’s first supreme commander. Eisenhower had to make tough decisions continuously about which of the many tasks he should focus on each day. This finally led him to invent the world-famous Eisenhower principle, which today helps us prioritize by urgency and importance (2)
These are the 5 steps to apply the Eisenhower matrix and learn how to prioritize (3)
Step 1: Make a list of this week/day task
Step 2: Recognize the difference between urgent versus important
Urgent means that a task requires immediate attention. “Now!” Urgent tasks put us in a reactive mode, one marked by a defensive, negative, hurried, and narrowly-focused mindset.
Important tasks are things that contribute to our long-term mission, values, and goals. Sometimes important tasks are also urgent, but typically they are not.
Step 3: Include your tasks in the four quadrants following the urgent/important principles
Quadrant 1: Urgent and Important Tasks.
They’re tasks that require our immediate attention because they help us to achieve what really matters or are close to our life
purpose or values:
- Certain emails
- Tax deadline
- Preparing coaching session for this morning
Quadrant 2: Not Urgent but Important Tasks
Quadrant 2 tasks are the activities that do not have a pressing deadline, but nonetheless help you achieve your important personal, school, and work goals as well as help you fulfill your overall mission.
Q2 tasks are typically centered around strengthening relationships, planning for the future, and improving yourself.
- Weekly planning
- Family time
- Taking a class to improve a skill
- Creating a budget and savings plan
- Preparing webinar, blog post
Quadrant 3: Urgent and Not Important Tasks
Quadrant 3 tasks are activities that require our attention now (urgent), but don’t help us achieve our goals or fulfill our mission (not important).
- Phone calls
- Text messages
- Most emails (some emails could be urgent and important)
Quadrant 4: Not Urgent and Not Important Tasks
Quadrant 4 activities aren’t urgent and aren’t important. They’re what I like to call “fritter away time” activities. Q4 activities aren’t pressing nor do they help you achieve long-term goals or fulfill your mission as a person. They’re primarily distractions.
- Mindlessly surfing the web
- Scrolling through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram without a reason
- Long meetings
Step 4: Do it, Plan, Delegate and eliminate
Q1 tasks: For these important and urgent tasks: Do it now
Q2 tasks:. For these important and not urgent tasks: Plan. If you plan the tasks will move from Q1 to Q2
Q3: For these not important but urgent tasks: Delegate. Most of our time we spend in this time, all the while thinking we are working. These takes needs to be done but they are not important to achieve what really matters to you.
Q4: For not important, not urgent talks: Eliminate. These tasks are included in “ I am wasting my life” moment, that time are not in my way to pursue life goals.
If we stay most of the time at Q2, planning, the tasks never are going to become urgent and we will be spending our time in the activities aligned with of goals.
In summary, After you do that, think of ways you can reduce the amount of time you spend on Q1, Q3, and Q4 tasks and increase the amount of time you spend on Q2 activities.
- it is not lack of time, Its lack of Priorities (Zenpowerment, Randy Scott, April, 2018) https://medium.com/swlh/its-not-lack-of-time-it-s-lack-of-priorities-d67d8c3051e8
- video What is the Eisenhower Matrix?