Understanding How to Use the Eisenhower Matrix to Radically Change Your Life
The Eisenhower Matrix is a complex name for one of the most simple and effective time management systems ever devised. Dwight Eisenhower was a five-star general during World War II and was responsible for planning and executing the D-Day landing that helped bring an end to the war in Europe. After retiring from the military Eisenhower was a two-term president of the United States. During his time in office he ended the Korean War, established the interstate highway system, and organized NASA. Eisenhower was all about productivity and efficiency.
Eisenhower used a simple principle to help know with absolute clarity how he should use his time. All tasks can be classified as important or not important and urgent or not urgent.
You can easily construct a 2 X 2 box, or matrix, to categorize every task.
Everything task or demand on your time can be put into one of the four boxes. The first step in using this productivity technique is to learn the difference between urgent and important. Taking advantage of a flash sale is urgent, but it is not important. However, completing a big project by the deadline is not urgent (at least not yet) but is important.
How to Apply It
Very few tasks are ever both important and urgent, unless you failed to properly manage your time. However, if you have something that is both important and urgent that is what you should be working on first. Important tasks that are not urgent should be scheduled so you can complete them before they become urgent. Tasks that are not important, but are urgent should be delegated or outsourced. Anything that is not important or not urgent should simply be ignored.
This is not something that takes years to master. Once you understand the basic principles you can easily use this exercise to sort your daily tasks. If you spend all of your time doing important tasks, almost nothing will ever become urgent and important. But, when some emergency does suddenly arise, you will be ready to deal with it. You will not be saddled with a backlog of work that you have procrastinated on top of dealing with the new emergency.
The other effect of using the Eisenhower Matrix is that it is much harder to justify wasting your time. You can easily see what tasks should be delegated and what tasks aren’t worth worrying about.
Understanding Time as Finite Resource
The power of the Eisenhower Matrix is that it treats time like the finite resource it is. If you had unlimited amounts of time, productivity wouldn’t matter. But, since you and I only have so many hours a day to get work done, it is essential for our health and happiness that we make the best use of our time.
Life is too short to waste time on unimportant tasks. Once you spend all of your work time focused on important tasks, you will have less stress, get more done, and have fewer emergencies to deal with.