‘Does your bottomless to-do list scare you? Well, understandably it is pretty intimidating. There are whole lotta tasks that you gotta do, with no clue where to start from. And if that’s not bad enough, the looming deadline is just making everything worse.
But don’t worry, the Eisenhower Matrix has got your back.
It’s a decision-making tool (also time management and prioritising tool at the same time) by Dwight Eisenhower.
He was the 34th president of the United States and was said to be one of the most productive guys ever. It makes sense for him to have a trick up his sleeve.
What is the Eisenhower Matrix?
Make a square and divide it into 4 following sections (aka quadrants):
1. Important & Urgent
This section includes things that are both urgent and important to you. It could be things like studying for a test that you have tomorrow, putting up a band-aid on a bleeding finger.
These tasks are time-sensitive and hold value for you.
2. Important & Not Urgent
This section holds all those things you know you should be doing. Things that are important for you, but not exactly urgent. It could be working out, reading books, getting some downtime for yourself if you overwork yourself, or spending time with your friends and family.
3. Unimportant & Urgent
These are the tasks that need to be done (within a definite period of time) but you don’t particularly care about them. Tasks from your boss (or teacher) that need to be done ASAP, and the laundry and dishes are counted here.
4. Unimportant & Not Urgent
Deep down in your heart, even you know what these tasks are. Scrolling insta, oversleeping, or just killing time when you’ve got stuff to do are neither important nor urgent.
Now that we have all the tasks, what do we do with them? Instinctively, doing the first quadrant tasks seems like the right thing to do, and it is. But what do we do with the other three sections?
Important & Urgent – Do it. Do these tasks right away, they’re important and require your attention now.
Important & Not Urgent – Schedule it. You might not have to do these tasks immediately, but you do wanna do them. The best way to make sure you do them is by assigning them their own time slot, so when the time comes, you can’t say ‘oh I don’t have the time for it’. As a wise guy once said, “we should do important things before they become urgent”.
Unimportant & Urgent – Delegate it. These tasks sure need to be done, but who said you’re the one who has to do it? They don’t require your expertise, or any expertise for that matter and anyone can do it. Must say, teachers are pretty darn good at this quadrant. They delegate things like making lists or taking attendance to the students.
Unimportant & Not Urgent – Delete it. This is pretty self-explanatory. Just don’t do the things that fall under this quadrant. It is simple, but not easy, and I do recognise that this is easier said than done.
- Mark things as important if they are important to you. If you consider something important because others think of it as important, and you give that task priority, you’re still gonna feel like you’re not getting things done. This would be true because you’d not be doing things that are important to you and then this whole exercise would just be a waste of time. Others’ standards of importance might not be the same as yours. Hope that makes sense.
- Things like Netflix and social media aren’t always in the 4th quadrant. Times when you’re tired or have done enough work that you can watch them guilt-free, they can shift into the 2nd quadrant. It depends on the context and what you have on your plate at the moment. (Hence note 1).