For this blog post we decided to highlight one of our favourite productivity hacks, with a twist all of our very own.
The Eisenhower Productivity Matrix
According to history Dwight D Eisenhower was one of the most productive people who ever lived.
The 34th US President and Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in WWII had an ability to be incredibly productive in his professional life and still have time for his family and his hobbies.
His best-known productivity strategy is the Eisenhower Matrix, a simple but very powerful decision-making tool that can be used to immediately prioritise tasks, reduce wasted time and when used consistently, eliminate procrastination.
“What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important.” – Dwight D Eisenhower
Eisenhower’s strategy for taking action and organising your tasks is simple.
Using the decision matrix above, you will separate your actions based on four quadrants.
1. DO IT NOW
Urgent and Important – (Crises – tasks you need to do immediately)
Important and Urgent activities are either emergencies that you couldn’t predict or those that you’ve left until the last minute and have reached a crisis point.
These are things we have to manage right now and have a relatively short-term focus.
Important and Urgent tasks might include:
- Fire-fighting & pressing problems
- Equipment breakdowns
- Client complaints
- Items from Q2 that weren’t dealt with
(By spending more time in Q2, developing systems and plans, you can make many of these tasks more efficient or even eliminate them outright.)
2. PLAN IT
Important but Not Urgent – (Plan and schedule a time to do it)
These are the activities that help you achieve your long and mid-term goals and objectives. Because they aren’t necessarily pressing for attention, we often put them off to deal with “urgent” issues.
Important but not Urgent activities might include:
- Longer term planning
- Work that directly contributes to goals and objectives
- Risk analysis
- Relationship and team building
- Education and training
- Proactive maintenance
- Creating a budget
(Investing more of your time in this quadrant will help prevent and eliminate many of the urgent activities in Q1.)
Urgent but Not Important – (Interruptions – tasks you can delegate to someone else)
Urgent but Not Important activities are things that sap your time and energy without contributing to longer-term benefits. They keep you busy but have no real value.
Urgent but not Important tasks might include:
- Regular meetings and reports
- Phone calls and text messages
- Most emails (although some emails could be urgent and important)
- Requests from others that don’t directly contribute to your objectives
- Tasks that “We’ve always done this way” that are ineffective
(Renegotiate deadlines, delegate where possible, and challenge the status quo of “regular” activities that don’t necessarily add value, e.g. reports that no one reads or actions.)
4. DUMP IT
Not Urgent and Not Important – (Distractions – tasks you need to eliminate)
Although they may be important to others, these activities are neither important for achieving your long-term goals nor urgent. They are essentially distracting you from doing the things that matter.
Not Urgent and Not Important tasks might include:
- Excessive or irrelevant email
- Personal phone calls
- Social media usage
- Unimportant or unproductive meetings
- Anything that causes you to procrastinate, or delay, Q2 (Planning) tasks
(Reduce, or completely avoid spending time, effort, and resources on activities in this quadrant if possible.)
So now you know about the Eisenhower Matrix have a look at the Novalead take on the Productivity Matrix below, to improve functionality we have added a to-do section, a priority list and a notes section for forward planning.
For best results we recommend filling out your to-do list the night before, this gives your subconscious mind time to create the outcomes you seek, unlocking connections and solutions to your problems and projects.
“Your subconscious mind works continuously, while you are awake, and while you sleep.” – Napoleon Hill
To try out our Forward Planner for yourself download a .PDF copy so you can print your own.