Following on in the series of posts on time management for project management. The Eisenhower Matrix, also referred to as the Urgent-Important Matrix, helps to sort tasks by their urgency and importance.
What is the Eisenhower Matrix?
The matrix was designed by former US President Dwight D. Eisenhower. In his career as President and roles in the US Army and NATO he had to decide which tasks he should concentrate on, on a daily basis. As a result, he designed the Eisenhower Matrix, which is still widely used to this day.
Eisenhower identified that there is a difference between important and urgent. Important tasks lead to the achievement of personal and professional goals, whereas urgent tasks usually help others to achieve their goals.
The consequences of not completing an urgent task are experienced immediately, and therefore they generally receive the most importance.
How to use it
The matrix is split into four quadrants and tasks are assigned according to their urgency and importance.
List all of the tasks that take up your time, regardless of how important they are. You can then assign them to one the quadrants.
Important and urgent
Tasks in this quadrant should be a priority and completed the same day or the following day at the latest.
If you find that you have many tasks in this quadrant, ask yourself whether they are tasks that have been left to the last minute, or ones that could not have been foreseen. Making this distinction will allow you to plan more effectively in the future, by leaving time free for unforeseen tasks and scheduling others so that they don’t become important and urgent.
Important but not urgent
Tasks that enable you to achieve your personal professional goals and complete important projects should be scheduled to be completed at a later time or date.
It is vital that you leave adequate time for their successful completion to avoid them becoming important and urgent.
Not important but urgent
Tasks that are urgent but less important can be rescheduled or delegated to other members of the team. Tasks in this quadrant are often driven by other people. Encourage others to solve problems themselves or learn to say a polite, “no”.
If a task has been delegated, then remember to stay in contact with the personal responsible to keep up-to-date with progress.
Not important and not urgent
If a task isn’t urgent or important then it shouldn’t be done at all.
Others may want you to complete tasks, but if they don’t help you to achieve your goals then politely say no and explain why you are unable to complete the task.
Setting clear objectives and boundaries will often stop others from asking you to do such tasks in the future.
Tips for working with the Eisenhower Matrix
Make to-do lists
Your mind can be decluttered by making to-do lists, however always identify what needs to be done first.
Don’t overfill your quadrants
It is important that you don’t overwhelm yourself with tasks, ideally, there should be no more than eight tasks in a quadrant. Complete the most important task before you add a new one, remember, tasks should be completed, not collected.
Don’t separate professional and private tasks
Although you may wish to separate your professional and private life, inevitably, they will intertwine. Keeping just one overall list will ensure that you keep a good work-life balance and have done something for yourself by the end of the day.
Plan your tasks in the morning and don’t let others distract you or define the priority of your task. It isn’t just your colleagues who can cause distractions however, try not to procrastinate!
Completing the Eisenhower Matrix for your project activities will enable you to manage your time effectively and identify any areas in which your time is wasted.
Applying the Matrix to both your personal and professional life will increase your effectiveness and efficiency, reducing any tendencies to procrastinate and decrease the stressful feelings of having too many tasks to do at one time.
Eisenhower Decision Matrix Download
To help you get started, you can download a FREE COPY of the Eisenhower Decision Matrix for Project Time Management. Simply click the link below.
More Project Time Management Resources
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