The Eisenhower Matrix

During his time in office Dwight D. Eisenhower accomplished many things, however this article doesn’t focus on his politics or his accomplishments. This is meant to provide a brief straight forward explanation of his thought process in terms of the Eisenhower Matrix.

The concept is simple at it’s core, you have important and urgent tasks. These dictate how you should respond to them accordingly. Most people in today’s work environment suffer from stress, anxiety, or depression on one level or another. These factors are powerfully draining on your mental state, and they can make it difficult to think, process, and enact the things that you want done. Many of these things symptomatically lead to procrastination.

The Eisenhower Matrix should at the very least help you put yourself in a position where you can see the gears turning in your own head.

Category Definition:

Important Tasks – These are tasks who’s outcome directly effects how successful we are either personally, or professionally.
Urgent Tasks – Tasks which demand immediate attention, look at these and see how often your urgent tasks are associated with someone else’s goal.

These two distinctions are what forms the basis of the matrix. Being able to differentiate between unimportant urgent tasks you have is the key to going from reactivity surviving in your life to proactively thriving.

Important and Urgent – There are two types of these events that you will run into. The first type is a situation you could not have foreseen and had no way to prevent. (You’re at work and your wife calls screaming that the sewer is backing up in your basement.)
The second type are situations where an important task has been left until it has become urgent, this is where the most important changes occur. (You waited until the last minute to do your taxes.) Sitting down and examining these situations will help you see which of them could be prevented or foreseen. The goal here is to optionally get to a point where no task that’s important becomes urgent.

Important but NOT urgent – These types of tasks are what allow you to grow as a person. They forward your goals, and given the right environment can show you that you are progressing in the direction you want. It is important to leave enough time in your schedule so that when unexpected challanges arrive, you have the time to deal with them. (Studying for a certification exam you want to take in a few months.)

Not Important but Urgent – These tasks often come from other people. Generally you want to reschedule or delegate them. If the task isn’t pressing, it’s important to consider the option of simply politely declining a query for help, especially if you’re in the middle of an important task. Alternatively you can encourage the person to try to solve the problem them self.

Not Important and Not Urgent – These activities are often a distraction, if you can avoid them do so.
Most of them you should find that you can cancel or ignore. However human’s are social creatures. Consider parties and social events as have potential to grow into important things, depending upon important tasks you have. (If you’re starting a business or working on your house for example, consulting your friends for ideas of how they’d tackle a problem can be very useful.)At the end of the day only you can decide what things are Important and Urgent to you.

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