On the heels of last week's time management discussion, let's dig a little deeper into the topic of prioritization. At the beginning of the day, everything can feel urgent and important, causing you to feel overwhelmed. However, employing a prioritization method can give you control of even the most daunting to-do lists.
This week, we're focusing on a specific prioritization method, the Eisenhower Matrix. Once you have completed the "brain dump" we discussed in last week's blog, it's time to prioritize so that you can focus on the most important and urgent tasks first. The Eisenhower Matrix helps you determine the order in which you attend to all your tasks, leaving nothing to be forgotten.
If you didn’t read last week’s post, this would be a good time to do so... Chaos or Control? Take Control of Today and Plan for a More Efficient Tomorrow with These Simple Time Management Practices
The Eisenhower Matrix was inspired by the Dwight D. Eisenhower quote, “I have two kinds of problems, the urgent and the important. The urgent are not important, and the important are never urgent.” The matrix helps you categorize your tasks so you know where to start and which tasks are flexible if something unexpected pops up in your day.
If you google "Eisenhower Matrix," you'll see a variety of formats. We'll cover one format here, but you may want to explore others to see what works best for you. Categorize your tasks into the following quadrants:
These tasks are important and time sensitive.
These tasks are not important but they are time- sensitive.
These tasks are important but not time-sensitive.
These tasks may not be highly important or time sensitive, but shouldn't be forgotten.
Let's look at an example. Here's a view of a project dashboard before prioritization:
Here's the project dashboard after prioritization:
You can use the filter function to view only tasks that are marked 1 and 2. In other words, the tasks that should be done before all others.
TIP: To determine where to begin, filter down to your Priority 1 tasks.
Unsure what quadrant to use for your tasks? Here are some examples from my own list:
Quadrant 1 - Important AND Urgent
A proposal for a client meeting today is a Q1 task because it is both time-sensitive and urgent, since client expectations are important to the success of your business.
Quadrant 2 - Urgent
Scheduling meetings for client updates on Friday is a Q2 task because it is time-sensitive. The meetings need to be on the calendar today if you want to meet on Friday.
Quadrant 3 - Important
Invoicing is an example of an important task that may not be urgent...yet. It is important for these invoices to go out, but if you send them only once a month, they may not be the most urgent task of the day.
Quadrant 4 - Not Important, Not Urgent
I use Q4 for items that I see value in, but are not necessarily important to the core business and are not time-sensitive. These tasks may include research or personal/career development.
Be sure to take time to review your task lists since your priorities may shift due to approaching deadlines or changes in client expectations. Yesterday's Q3 task may become today's Q1 task.
Time management presents a unique challenge for everyone and can vary by industry, company, and role in the organization. Contact FUEL it to schedule an interactive session with your company or team to discuss your specific time management challenges and explore techniques and tools.
About FUEL it
We ignite organizational results with strategies, training, and performance solutions. We exist to help power the transformation that drives your company's growth and success by aligning your goals, processes, and activities to a framework that generates results. If you want to learn how to apply these leadership and management skills in your organization, contact us today. We offer a variety of custom and ready-to-use content, delivered online or through a series of facilitated workshops.