Time management can seem like a tricky thing to master amidst the number of priorities, tasks, deadlines, and other commitments that quietly and unexpectedly take over the day.
Imagine yourself at work and midway through a project your team leader asks you to prepare an important presentation for an upcoming board meeting. You already have a heavy workload, your to do list is brimming with urgent tasks and you’re starting to feel the pressure.
It’s in situations like these that it can be difficult to comprehend the difference between what’s important and urgent and how to best manage your time and devote your energy.
Whilst there is an array of time management concepts in existence, we have found that the Eisenhower Decision Matrix is a simple tool that takes the principles of urgent vs important and helps you order and classify your activities. This in turn, encourages you to pause and reflect on where most of your time is spent and how you can get the most value out of the time you do have.
“What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important”Dwight D. Eisenhower
In this post we will uncover the underlying principles of the matrix and highlight why it is important for all business leaders and teams to use this tool to claim back time and prioritise the important things in business and life.
The ‘Eisenhower Matrix’ or the ‘Urgent-Important Matrix’ is a productivity tool formulated to boost effectiveness and project management. Utilising a quadrant grid, it classifies your daily tasks visually according to two essential parameters – importance and urgency.
Eisenhower recognised the importance of time management and to be effective as well as efficient, therefore creating the matrix to determine the urgency of one’s tasks.
The matrix is separated into four quadrants:
- Urgent and important
- Not urgent but important
- Urgent but not important
- Not urgent and not important
If you’re consistently finding yourself hopping from one task to another and not actually achieving anything, chances are you haven’t considered the difference between urgent and important tasks. To effectively use the Eisenhower Matrix, you must understand the distinction between the two terms
What are ‘urgent’ and ‘important’ activities
Important activities are tasks that contribute to our purpose, vision, values or goals. They typically require planning, organisation and initiative and require you to act in a productive and proactive state of mind.
Urgent activities, on the other hand, are tasks that demand our immediate attention, usually associated with achieving another ’s goals. Putting us into a reactive mode, these are often tasks that we devote our time and concentration to, as they demand attention due to the consequences that can result.
By having a solid grasp on these two terms, you can overcome natural tendencies to focus on unimportant urgent activities, and effectively dedicate your efforts and time to tasks that are essential for your success.
To learn more about how to adopt a proactive way of working that encourages you to become more accountable check-out are online module ‘Accepting Personal Accountability’. Click here for more!
Or watch our video on ‘Eisenhower’s Urgent and Important Principle’