Imagine this scenario where you have two tasks in front of you: one is urgent for your present, while the other is important for your future. Which one do you do first? Maybe the Eisenhower Matrix can help!
If you think about it, you may be able to give a more logical answer. However, when you’re faced with an “urgent” situation, you seldom get time to make a logical decision, and you end up choosing the urgent but not important task to complete first.
It’s not really your fault; the human mind is designed to function that way. We constantly fail to determine what is important in the short and long term with accuracy. This is where the Eisenhower principle can prove to be helpful.
Read on to find out how the Eisenhower matrix can be beneficial if you’re trying to organize your life better.
The Eisenhower Matrix
Dr. Dwight D. Eisenhower was the thirty-fourth president of the USA, a five-star general during World War 2, and was crowned the most admired man by Gallup no less than 12 times.
During his two terms as the president, he created NASA, ended the Korean War, maintained the Cold War with Russia, led the construction of the Interstate Highway System, and signed the first major piece of civil rights legislation since the end of the Civil War.
As you sip your 3rd cup of coffee to get through the day, you may wonder, “How did he manage to get all of that done?” The answer is simple: He figured out the difference between “urgent” and “important.”
Quoting his unnamed university president, “I have two kinds of problems, the urgent and the important,” Eisenhower said in a 1954 speech. “The urgent are not important, and the important are never urgent.”
In simple terms, the Eisenhower Matrix is a framework that allows enables you to prioritize your tasks more effectively.
Why Do We Need The Eisenhower Matrix?
The truth of the matter is that we humans are bad at prioritization. The Journal of Consumer Research recently conducted a study to determine the “Mere-Urgency Effect.” Five separate experiments were conducted to understand what people work on when faced with tasks of mixed importance and urgency.
Interestingly, all the experiments saw a similar pattern: People were more likely to prioritize the time-sensitive task, even if it wasn’t as rewarding as the more important task. So even if you believe that you’re good at prioritizing tasks and managing your time, there’s a high chance that you’re mistaken.
Another interesting thing to note from this study is that this Mere-Urgency Effect was more prominent in people who found themselves to be “busy” most of the time.
Since these self-described busy people are already fixated on the time crunch, they tend to select urgent tasks with lower rewards since they want to get things done as soon as possible.
But there is an upside to this. Now that you know that you may be a victim of the Mere-Urgency Effect, you can reverse this effect with the help of the Eisenhower principle.
The Four Eisenhower Matrix Quadrants
In order to apply the Eisenhower principle to your life, you need to understand the four quadrants of the Eisenhower Matrix.
· The First Quadrant: Urgent and Important
As the name suggests, these are the tasks that come with a time constraint and need your immediate attention. They will likely have a deadline attached to it, and there might be some consequences if you avoid or delay it.
For example, you could have a customer complaint that you need to attend to. Or, on a personal level, you may have to fix a leaking sink or attend to a sick family member. Anything that requires your full attention and needs to be attended to as soon as possible will fall in this quadrant.
These are the tasks that will prove to be beneficial for you in the long run but do not require your immediate attention. They seldom have a deadline, but when they do, it is usually not in the near future. As a result, you are more likely to procrastinate these tasks in favor of more urgent yet less rewarding tasks.
However, attending to these tasks is the key to long-term success. In addition to that, if you keep putting these tasks off, they could make their way to the first quadrant and create unnecessary stress, making it a bit of a vicious cycle.
Examples of these tasks include learning a skill for your career, working out, building a professional network, or even spending more time with your loved ones.
· The Third Quadrant: Important but Not Urgent
These are the tasks that have a deadline but may not be essential in the grand scheme of things. This means that they do little to bring you closer to your long-term goals.
Instead, it is likely that these are expectations others have of you. However, the time crunch associated with it may trick your brain into believing that it is important to you as well.
For instance, your coworker may be struggling with something and expect you to leave your work and help them. Or you might be called to a conference in your company that doesn’t have anything to do with your department. You may feel that you need to do these tasks. However, in reality, they provide little benefit to you, especially in the long run.
· The Fourth Quadrant: Not Urgent, Not Important
These tasks aren’t essential for your long-term goals; neither do they come with a time crunch. Then why do people fall for it? The catch of the fourth quadrant is that it provides instant gratification but leaves you feeling unsatisfied in retrospect.
Do you ever find yourself watching a random video on YouTube while you are researching for a project? Or pick up your phone to send an important text, but end up scrolling through to Twitter?
Anything that doesn’t help you in the short or long run but takes up your time falls under this category. It would be best if you eliminated or reduced these tasks from your life as much as possible.
Eisenhower Matrix Examples
It is important to divide your tasks into four quadrants to apply the Eisenhower principle to your life. To make it easier to understand, here is an example of what the framework would look like from the point of view of a project manager.
· A. Quadrant 1: Prioritize
Host a project governance meeting.
Keep stakeholders updated on the project status
Get any missing information that may be holding back implementation
Keep a check on critical safety incidents
· B. Quadrant 2: Schedule
Screen resume to fill in skill gaps
Work on improvement initiatives
Review actual costs against the project budget
· C. Quadrant 3: Delegate
Weekly status update
Plan scrum meetings
Respond to vendor queries
· D. Quadrant 4: Delete
Making unnecessary hard copies of documents
Unnecessary mobile apps and notifications
Writing or reviewing codes
The Eisenhower principle can be applied to almost any aspect of your life. Whether you want to improve your career or your personal life, you need to divide all your tasks into four quadrants. It may not be as easy as it seems. However, once you start working on it, you will get better at accessing your tasks.
So follow the above example to create your own Eisenhower Matrix, and see how your day becomes instantly more productive.
You can also know more about Eisenhower Matrix by watching the following YouTube Video
Importance of HR Process for Automation Our lives are now more intertwined with technology than ever before. It’s quite astonishing what technology and development in HRM can do and how it can transform things in a positive way. It has its negatives as well as positives, but in this article we are going to talk […]
As a business owner, you may be thinking of custom web development and web design or e-commerce website and you may be asking questions like “how can I grow my business online?” and “what’s the best way for marketing my business online and what is content marketing?” There is a lot of hype about content […]