Some of you might have heard of the Eisenhower Matrix before, where you rank tasks in terms of their Urgency and Importance in 4 quadrants. The Eisenhower Matrix was made popular by Stephen Covey in his book “First Things First”, however, the concept is originally credited to US President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Whenever he was confronted with things that needed to be done he would ask himself two questions, “Is it important?” and “Is it urgent?”.
Too many of us are guilty of filling our day with tasks that are in the “Not Urgent and Not Important” quadrant. These might be tasks that others want you to do, but they don’t contribute towards your own goals. In other words, they are facilitating your procrastination! We need to recognise them when they arise and learn to say “no”.
Next, we have the “Urgent but Not Important” quadrant – these are tasks that prevent you from completing your work, and therefore achieving your goals. Interruptions like the phone ringing or non-essential meetings can easily take you away from a project that you know you should be working on. Ask yourself whether these tasks can be rescheduled, or whether you can delegate them.
“Urgent and Important” tasks are ones that you could not foresee or that you’ve left to the last minute that need to take priority. You can avoid these by planning ahead, leaving contingency time in your schedule for the unexpected and avoiding the aforementioned procrastination.
But it’s the ones that linger in the “Important but Not Urgent” section that may actually prove to be a key driver in moving your business forward. It’s these tasks that I want to get business owners focused on before it’s too late and they are re-categorised as “urgent”.
Using the matrix is simple and it may just be the best thing you do for your business! These simple steps below can help you to get started:
- List all tasks, projects and activities that you need to do, try to include everything that takes up your time.
- On a scale of 1-5 assign a number representing importance to your list of things to do, this will measure how important each task is in assisting you to reach your goals.
- Once you have numbered all tasks and projects begin thinking about how urgent they are and plot them into the matrix according to your findings.
- Next, you can look at the matrix using the strategies above to manage your priorities.
A virtual assistant can help you achieve them either by taking care of the tasks in other quadrants, or helping you get started with the goals themselves, whilst you handle the day to day. So what are you waiting for?! 😉