How to Prioritise – The Eisenhower Matrix – 2 minute read

Welcome back to the What Supp Blog. Today’s post is about how to get sh*t sorted and prioritise. With this in mind, I’ll introduce you to the Eisenhower Matrix.

The Esinhower Matrix is a method used by a former American president Dwight D. Eisenhower. Eisenhower was the 34th President of the United States from 1953 until 1961. Before becoming President, he served as a general in the United States Army and as the Allied Forces Supreme Commander during World War II. He also later became NATO’s first supreme commander. Needless to say he needed to make some pretty tough decisions.

Prioritising tasks by urgency and importance results in 4 quadrants with different work strategies:

1. Do first

2. Decide

3. Delegate

4. Don’t do

The first quadrant is called Do first as its tasks are important for your life and career, and need to be done today or tomorrow at the latest. You could use a timer to help you concentrate while trying to get as much of them done as possible. An example could be a work document, paying a bill or an unexpected crisis.

The second quadrant is called Decide. These are for tasks to schedule and are important but less urgent. You should list tasks you need to put in your calendar here. An example of that could be a long-planned study or exercise program, family or friend commitments.

Competent time managers leave fewer things unplanned and therefore try to manage most of their work in the second quadrant, reducing stress by terminating urgent and important to-dos to a reasonable date in the near future whenever a new task comes in.

The third quadrant is for those tasks you could delegate as they are less important to you than others but still pretty urgent. You should keep track of delegated tasks by e-mail, telephone or within a meeting to check back on their progress later.

An example of a delegated task could be somebody calling you to ask for an urgent favor or request that you step into a meeting. You could delegate this responsibility by suggesting a better person for the job or by giving the caller the necessary information to have them deal with the matter themselves.

The fourth and last quadrant is called Don’t Do because it is there to help you sort out things you should not being doing at all. Use this quadrant to identify and stop bad habits, which cause you to procrastinate. These items are the ones which give you an excuse for not being able to deal with important tasks in the 1st and 2nd quadrant.

Try limiting yourself to no more than eight tasks per quadrant. Before adding another one, complete the most important one first. Remember: It is not about collecting but finishing tasks. You should always maintain only one list for both professional and private tasks. That way you will never be able to complain about not having done anything for your family or yourself at the end of the day.

Till next time

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