Time planning is a very useful skill that allows you to significantly increase your own efficiency with a little effort. Most of us make one linear list when planning our business. Gradually, it grows, we add new tasks to it, do something, and transfer something to the next day. And the larger the list, the lower the effectiveness of this approach, since it becomes difficult to rank tasks. The Eisenhower Matrix is a powerful tool for solving this problem, clearly and unambiguously prioritizing all the planned tasks. In this article, we will take a closer look at what the Eisenhower Matrix is and how to work with it correctly. Let’s start.
What is the Eisenhower Matrix?
The Eisenhower Matrix is a special table for recording problems, consisting of 4 fields (or “quadrants”) that allow you to unambiguously prioritize tasks. For each task, only two parameters are determined: importance and urgency. After that, depending on the combination of these parameters, it is entered into a certain cell of the matrix.
management, and 34th US President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Before becoming president, he went through two world wars and ended his military career as one of the most revered generals of his country. He was undoubtedly a very effective person, solving a huge number of problems at every stage of his life and career.
In an effort to improve his own efficiency, he invented a way of organizing things that is today known as the “Eisenhower Matrix.” It is a simple, versatile and highly effective approach that anyone can figure out. And today we will take a closer look at how to use it in practice. Important matters are recorded in the top two cells, and unimportant ones in the bottom two. In the two left cells there are urgent matters, and in the two right ones there are non-urgent matters. As a result, all tasks are divided into 4 groups, for each of which its importance and priority is quite clear. Looks pretty straightforward, doesn’t it? And yet, before you start, you should deal with some subtleties and pitfalls so as not to repeat other people’s mistakes.
How does it work?
Main the goal of this approach is to enable a person to quickly, accurately and unambiguously assign cases, distinguishing between such concepts as importance and urgency. People who understand well what the Eisenhower Matrix is and how it works spend most of their time on important matters, solving all problems in a timely manner and without bringing them to a state of urgency.
To learn how to use this tool effectively, adhere to the following simple rules:
- Schedule a list of tasks in the evening. No need to fill in the matrix right away. It is enough to sketch out a rough version of the list in order to rethink, supplement and organize it in the morning. You can record this list on the recorder of your smartphone before going to bed.
- First write all cases on one sheet. It is easier to analyze and evaluate any information if you write it down and keep it in front of your eyes as clearly as possible. Over time, when you learn to quickly assess the urgency and importance of each task, this item can be skipped.
- As you go through the lists, reevaluate each case. There is no need to constantly edit the table – excessive perfectionism here can only harm. But by reevaluating things today, you will be able to distribute them tomorrow faster and more accurately.
- Do not be discouraged if you have to postpone some of the work until tomorrow. The Eisenhower Matrix is for this purpose, in order to correctly rank tasks by priority and, first of all, to carry out the most important and urgent ones. And the rest can be tolerated without remorse.
To understand how classify a problem by entering it into the Eisenhower matrix, ask yourself the following questions:
- Is this task related to my priority values? If yes, then this is an important task.
- Will failure to complete this task lead to negative consequences? If yes, then the task is important.
- Will the result be different if I complete this task not today, but tomorrow? If yes, then the task is urgent. If there is a hard deadline or it is impossible to complete the task tomorrow for other reasons, it is of top priority in terms of urgency.
- Will postponing this task have negative consequences? An affirmative answer also indicates that the task is urgent.
Another important tip: design the Eisenhower matrix so that there is free space in each quadrant for new items. If it doesn’t work, take a larger sheet or reduce the size of your handwriting. Remember that your ability to consider and foresee such little things says a lot about you.
The structure of the Eisenhower matrix
Quadrant A: important and urgent matters
Constant to-do in this quadrant indicates scheduling problems or incorrect prioritization, as important tasks must be completed before of how they become urgent. Of course, situations are possible when for well-organized and disciplined people, things become important and urgent. But with ideal planning, the A quadrant should be empty most of the time. It is not difficult to achieve this by completing the tasks in the B quadrant on time.
Typically, the A quadrant includes cases for which the following statements are true:
- they are related to health;
- their non-fulfillment (or untimely fulfillment) will have a negative impact on other matters;
- Failure to do so can lead to trouble.
Delegation is useful for quickly freeing the first quadrant. Of course, you can only outsource important tasks to people who are responsible enough.
Quadrant B: Important but not urgent
Despite the fact that this quadrant is the second, it is he who is the most important. It should contain cases that are of the highest priority and promising for you. These are tasks, each of which brings you closer to your goal. Ideally, these are the activities that you need to devote almost all your time to. People who do business primarily in the B quadrant are the most successful. They have better careers and business, and even in their personal lives there is more harmony.
Solving problems without unnecessary haste allows you to do everything more efficiently, fully revealing your potential. In a hurry, a person often does not seek to understand why something did not work, and then suddenly it worked. If you are not in a hurry, then there is always the opportunity to carefully analyze your actions and gain valuable experience. However, it is important to keep in mind that this approach progresses work more slowly, so there is an increased risk that important things will move into the A quadrant.
People for whom organization and self-discipline are crucial try to organize their work in such a way so that almost all work tasks are in the B quadrant. They also usually place many personal matters here, such as sports, medical examinations, various household issues, etc.
Quadrant C: urgent but not important things
This group includes matters that do not bring you closer to the goal, but only distract from important matters with their urgency. They hinder your efficiency, making it difficult to focus on your work. But people who do not know what the Eisenhower matrix is, and do not use it for planning, usually do not distinguish between cases from the C quadrant and cases from the A quadrant. Therefore, it is always important to remember the actual plans and when analyzing the importance of each case, decide whether it brings you to at least one of your goals.
Usually, things that have to be done fall into the C quadrant, although they are of no value. It could be an imposed meeting, or someone’s birthday that you don’t miss out of courtesy. Group C also includes all kinds of troubles that cannot be avoided, such as a broken vase, a burnt out light bulb, a creaking door canopy, or a broken kitchen tap. The solution to these problems is usually urgent, but does not advance you towards the goal and does not bring much benefit, but only removes the sudden inconveniences, taking up time and energy.
Quadrant D: non-urgent and not important matters
This group includes cases that are often called “time eaters.” They are not useful at all, and there is no need to deal with them. These are all kinds of routine entertainment, empty conversations during working hours, chatting and on forums, watching videos with cats on YouTube. Sometimes it seems to you that you can play “Klondike Solitaire” or play “Minesweeper” in a quick way, but in the end this trifle takes an hour or two from you, and even tires you. Rest can indeed be useful and meaningful, but such distractions from work often turn out to be meaningless, routine and even tiring. on the forums, watching TV shows and meaningless programs that are not just called “mind-numbing”. Of course, good rest is necessary in order to be distracted from work and everyday worries, but there are many ways to have a better, more pleasant and interesting rest than playing computer games and watching new TV series. Better to read a book, sign up for the gym and the pool, walk with loved ones in the park or get out into nature.
Having learned to use the Eisenhower matrix, you you will be able to manage your time much more efficiently and competently. Soon enough, you will notice that you have time to do a lot more things, and at the same time you will have more free time. But the most important thing is a sense of control over your life, since you will no longer have emergency situations in which you do not know which job to grab first. People who use this approach always solve important problems before they become urgent.
The Eisenhower Matrix is a great tool for anyone who wants to learn how to better manage their lives. In addition, it can be a panacea for those who are faced with such a phenomenon as emotional or professional burnout. If you have always liked what you do, but now your work is causing you only dysphoria, you urgently need to get things in order. No need to wait for instant results. But gradually a feeling of control will come to you, and with it will return the opportunity to enjoy the work that you have chosen for yourself for a reason.