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Do you ever have trouble prioritising your to-do list?
When faced with a long list of tasks I will often get side tracked with the time sensitive/smaller tasks. This results in the tasks that are more important to complete being delayed.
In order to combat this, I started looking at ways to prioritise my lists to get things done in a more effective order.
Whilst researching I stumbled upon the Eisenhower Principle (often referred to as the Eisenhower Matrix).
This is based on the following quote from Dwight Eisenhower, the 34th President of the United States.
“What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important”
The Eisenhower Principle
In order to prioritise your task list using the Eisenhower principle you must first create a matrix for the tasks to sit in.
To do this, very simply split your page horizontally and vertically to create four quadrants on your page as shown below.
Top of the page is for important tasks, bottom of the page are non-important tasks. The page is also split left to right, left side of the page are non urgent, right side of the page are urgent.
Therefore it follows that the quadrants are as follows
Top right – important AND urgent tasks.
Top left – important NOT urgent tasks.
Bottom right – Urgent NOT important tasks
Bottom left – Not important, not urgent tasks.
Now comes the difficult part – assigning your tasks to their relevant quadrant.
The principle describes an important task as one whose outcome will help you achieve a personal or professional goal.
An urgent task, although demanding immediate attention (and therefore often the task that get prioritised), is often associated with achieving someone else’s goals.
If a task is urgent but not important, is it possible to delegate this? Should you have committed to this in the first place?
If a task is neither urgent or important are they just a distraction? Do these need to be done at all?
Once you have assigned all your tasks to their relevant quadrant you can then prioritise as follows:
1) Important AND urgent tasks.
2) Important NOT urgent tasks.
3) Urgent NOT important tasks
4) Not important, not urgent tasks.
I find this method really useful way of prioritising my task list and ensuring I don’t make it to the end of a productive day with an important, time sensitive task still outstanding. It also makes me examine closely the tasks that I am spending my time on. Am I saying yes to something that isn’t important to me??
What are your thoughts? How do you manage your to-do’s?