How to prioritize your time with the Eisenhower Matrix?

June 23, 2022
Do you constantly struggle with trying to get all the items in your to-do list done? In today’s quick tips episode, Laura Kukemelk shares how to use the Eisenhower Matrix in which you evaluate your tasks based on their importance and urgency. As a result, you will end up with four categories of tasks: the things you need to do right away, the things you need to schedule to your calendar, the things you need to delegate and the things you need to delete..

Summer is finally here which means that it’s the perfect time to talk about time management. We don’t know about you, but for us usually summer is the season that things get a bit calmer at work - there are less new projects and less pressure when it comes to meeting deadlines because somebody is always on vacation and things tend to span out over a longer period of time.

And this is the perfect moment for you to charge your batteries. First of all, we truly hope that you get to take some time off as resting is crucial for your creativity. Secondly, take the opportunity to organize your workflows, projects and documents so that when the busy season comes around again, you have strong systems in place that help you be on track. Nowadays, the biggest challenges to optimal performance and time-management are information overload, distractions and multitasking. 

The antidote to this is prioritizing and systemizing your tasks as doing that will free up the necessary mental resources to be calm, to focus on the most important things, and to become more productive. 

So, how to organize your time and prioritize accordingly?

One simple framework for this is the Eisenhower Matrix in which you evaluate tasks based on their importance and urgency.

Imagine having a blank A4 page - if you draw a line in the middle both ways of the paper, you will end up with 4 boxes. These 4 boxes should accommodate all your tasks. So, on the one axis, you have importance and on the other one urgency. This means you end up with the following categories:

  1. Important & Urgent
  2. Important & Not Urgent
  3. Not important & Urgent
  4. Not important & Not Urgent

Let’s dive into each of these categories:

A) Urgent and important: These are time-critical key activities without which your performance or the business will suffer. You have to DO them right now. And these must be the first items in your calendar. Do not allow anything else to steal your time or focus until you’re finished. 

B) Important, but not urgent: Important activities that are not time-critical, but should still be done as soon as possible because they’re critical for your business success. You don’t have to decide if you do them; you have to decide WHEN you do them and schedule them into your calendar.

C) Urgent, but not important: The so-called “fires” that keep appearing and stealing your attention by needing to be put out. If possible, DELEGATE the time-sensitive tasks. Decide how you are going to communicate and train that person to carry out the project or task. And agree to a time frame for that person to complete the task and report how progress is coming along. By the way, if you think that only YOU can do this task because nobody else can do it the way you do it - then ask yourself, wouldn’t you like to free up time on this activity in the long term? If you invest your time into properly training somebody now, you will never have to deal with these tasks agan and can focus on the more important tasks.

D) Neither important or urgent: These are the nice-to-have activities that should be done whenever there’s time. You can leave them on a piece of paper as a reminder, but DELETE them from your to-do list. Most of the time, when the item is neither important nor urgent, you can simply get it off your mind. Let it go.

So, another way to think of these categories is:

  1. DO - meaning DO them now.
  2. DECIDE - meaning DECIDE when to do them.
  3. DELEGATE - meaning taking the time to properly delegate tasks.
  4. DELETE - meaning letting go of tasks that are not urgent or important and just cause stress as your to-do list seems endless with these tasks on there.

We highly encourage you to take this time to write out all your tasks and then categorizing them accordingly - trust us, it will give you lots of peace, knowing when you will work on each of them and also knowing the proper order for you to dive into them.

Here's the full episode on YouTube:

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