How to increase productivity and reduce time wasting with one simple tool
Dwight Eisenhower was the 34th President of the United States serving two terms between 1953 to 1961. Prior to becoming president, Eisenhower was a supreme commander of the Allied Forces in Europe during World War II and was responsible for executing the invasions of North Africa, France, and Germany. He then went on to be president of Columbia University and then supreme commander of NATO forces.
As you can see, Dwight Eisenhower lived an extremely productive life. He had an extraordinary ability to maintain his productivity not just for days or weeks, or even months, but for decades. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that his methods for productivity, time and task management have been studied by so many people.
His most famous strategy is the Eisenhowen Matrix which is a simple yet extremely effective decision-making tool to help prioritise and manage tasks that you could use right now. Let’s have a look at how this works.
Eisenhower's strategy for organising your tasks and taking action is simple. Using the matrix below, your action will be based on four possibilities:
1. Urgent and important
2. Not urgent and important
3. Urgent and not important
4. Not urgent and not important
The difference between urgent and important
The urgent tasks are those that you feel the need to react to e.g. emails, phone calls, enquiries. The important tasks are those which make you proactive and are the things that contribute to your long term goals, visions and missions.
Although separating these differences is simple enough to do once, consistency is key. The Eisenhower Matrix can be applied to to broad plans - what needs to be done this week? and can also be used to break these down into smaller, daily plans - "what should I do today?". It provides a clear framework for making decisions over and over again; whether that's in your personal or business life.
Reasons to use this method
1. More likely to move tasks to the eliminate quadrant - Too often we avoid the really difficult question of "do I actually need to be doing this?". It's much easier to avoid this completely and tell yourself that you just need to be more efficient or work a little later, rather than endure the pain of eliminating a task that you are comfortable doing - but is that really the best use of your time?
2. Drives actions towards accomplishing your goals - When thinking about the tasks in hand, it is important to ask yourself "does this help me with what I am working towards?" and "does this align with the core values that drive my life and business?". Answering these questions will help to clarify categories for certain tasks.
3. Decision-making becomes easier - After all, deciding which tasks to do and eliminate will become much easier once you are clear about what is important to you.
I really like this tool and have it on a whiteboard on the wall next to me in the office. I have found that writing my tasks down (somewhere where they won't get misplaced and forgotten about), helps me to break down tasks into smaller, more manageable chunks and prevents my head from feeling chaotic and overwhelming. Plus there is also the satisfaction of rubbing out the task once it is completed.
So, why not give the Eisenhower Matrix a go? We would love to hear how it works for you.