Eisenhower's matrix is intended to organize your routine, learning to prioritize tasks according to their degree of importance and urgency from a quadrant fragmented into two axes (vertical and horizontal). In each of them, you will:
- point out the tasks that are important and urgent in the first upper quadrant;
- point out tasks that are important, but not urgent, in the second upper quadrant;
- point out tasks that are not important, but are urgent, in the first lower quadrant;
- point out tasks that are neither important nor urgent in the second lower quadrant.
Leadership that does not keep up with fast changes – social and technological – is bound to stagnate.
Even worse: you risk seeing an avalanche of demands damage your productivity, and increase your stress level.
Notice, here, the interesting contrast that we will present, throughout this article, so that leaders can make the right decisions, with agility and without losing productivity: the Eisenhower matrix.
It is a method with more than 50 years of market application. And, before you condemn us for highlighting such an old tool, and in such modern times, give us a vote of confidence.
Find out how this model can be the differential to organize the day to day, prioritizing what is relevant, urgent and priority – without drowning in the turbulent routine!
Who is Eisenhower?
Let's start with the basics: Dwight Eisenhower was one of the most popular people in the world – and not just because he was the 34th president of the United States (between 1953 and 1961).
In addition to the position at the head of the powerful American nation, he was well known for having the productivity of his routine in the palm of his hand.
The secret behind this goes by the name of Eisenhower matrix. After all, the then president of the United States already had a history of discipline and organization.
Prior to the chief position, he was a general in the army, served throughout World War II and also commanded educational institutions such as Columbia University.
It is no wonder, therefore, that such versatility and dedication needed a tool capable of assisting you in important everyday decision-making.
This is how Eisenhower's matrix gained strength in its routine, and a global appeal to generate productivity, focus and discipline in the organization of tasks.
What is the Eisenhower matrix?
If you don't know where to start your work each morning, perhaps the Eisenhower matrix will illuminate your ideas.
Its implementation is very simple, and does not involve any effort to put it into practice. Just the investment of a few minutes to outline your activities.
Using the Eisenhower matrix, you need to assemble four quadrants, divided into two axes. In other words: a larger square, fragmented into a horizontal and a vertical line, as shown in the illustration below:
Now, enter the nomenclature part:
- in the first upper quadrant, you will mark the term “URGENT”;
- in the quadrant to the side, you will mark the term “NON-URGENT”;
- in the first quadrant, mark the term “IMPORTANT” on the side;
- in the second quadrant, mark the term “NOT IMPORTANT” on the side.
So, you have your Eisenhower matrix drawn. Now it's time to put it to use!
How does the Eisenhower matrix work?
As we said, the Eisenhower matrix has as its main purpose the organization of its routine, learning to prioritize tasks according to their degree of importance and urgency.
Following the outline of the figure highlighted above, you will align your activities as follows:
- in the important and urgent quadrant you write down tasks that cannot be postponed and have priority;
- in the important but non-urgent quadrant, there are activities in the medium or long term;
- in the urgent but unimportant quadrant, priority activities (such as a meeting or sending e-mails) may fall here;
- in the quadrant that is neither urgent nor important, you make tasks easier and do not require your immediate attention.
Did you see how this organization can help you visualize your routine without, therefore, disturbing the priority and urgency of each of your activities?
Here, it is appropriate to paraphrase the 34th American president regarding his productivity:
“What is important is rarely urgent. And what is urgent is rarely important. ” – Dwight Eisenhower.
How to organize the Eisenhower matrix?
To organize the structure of your Eisenhower matrix, start with the base that we highlighted earlier.
Then, take a few minutes to identify which pending tasks fit within the respective quadrants on your table.
It is important that you make a habit of filling out the Eisenhower matrix at the beginning of the week or at the end of a working day.
In this way, the routine does not catch you from unforeseen events, as you already know what is scheduled for the next day – or week -.
However, it is worth following some specific tips so as not to get in the way when planning it:
- if you have difficulty prioritizing tasks, write them all down and then individually assess which ones belong to the respective quadrants;
- learn to limit a specific amount of activities to each quadrant;
- do not mix personal and professional tasks on the same table. This can confuse the logic of your decisions;
- do not allow – or avoid as much as possible – distractions when performing priority tasks.
It is a good idea to dedicate a time interval between tasks to carry out the parallel activities and allow for distractions. This helps to catch your breath to carry on with your work.
What are the obstacles to decision making?
Now that you have your version of the Eisenhower matrix in hand, let's take a look at the psychological side of the problems that interfere with our decision making.
Often, we are overcome with pressure, stress and a high emotional burden, which clouds the reasoning in search of an impartial logical decision.
Hence, the importance in what we said about having a well-defined Eisenhower matrix for professional and private issues.
Start respecting your limits – physical and psychological – and have the matrix always at hand to organize yourself and prevent the accumulation of activities from stealing your entire disposition and generating an overload of work.
So, do you think that the Eisenhower Matrix will help you plan your daily life with more discipline, focus and productivity?
So, share it on your social networks and take the time to tag your co-workers who will also benefit from using the Eisenhower matrix!
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See you next time!