Using the Eisenhower Matrix for time management is one of the best ways to increase your productivity. This tool has been around for a while and it’s one that I (and many others) find very useful. When determining what tasks, activities, and projects to do, this handy matrix gives you a clear way to evaluate the importance and urgency of any task on your To Do list.
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Let’s see if this sounds familiar?
You get up, and as you’re drinking your first cup of coffee (or whatever form of caffeine gets you going) you look at the list of activities that are required to keep your home business running. And it’s a long list.
So you pull out your planner, choose several items off the list and plug them into the daily schedule. You’re already wondering how you’re ever going to get all this done…and this is only a small part of what NEEDS to be done.
So you fire up your computer and you get busy.
And you STAY busy working All. Day. Long!
There’s not a lazy bone in your body because you’re motivated and know that it takes hard work to succeed.
So why at the end of the day…and at the end of the week…don’t you feel like you’re any closer to achieving those big tasks that you know will get you closer to reaching that next business milestone?
If I were to make a guess, I’d say that you’re spending your time working on the wrong things…or that you’re spending your time working on the tasks that are urgent while ignoring the important tasks that are the backbone of your business.
And that is where using the Eisenhower Matrix for time management helps you get the right things done so that you’re productive, making progress, and not frustrated at the end of your work day and work week.
Related Post: How To Stay Productive When Stressed
so what is the eisenhower matrix?
Now you’ll see the matrix drawn in different ways. But however it’s drawn here’s the significance. The quadrants help you determine what tasks/activities are important…or not important. And which tasks are urgent…or not urgent.
And it’s that focus on urgency versus importance that helps you identify the tasks that are going to help you move your business forward and give you the most impact for your time investment.
So let’s do a quick walk through the four quadrants to get familiar with the types of activities that fall into each one and to learn how the Eisenhower Matrix can help manage your time for maximum productivity.
Quadrant 1: The Do It Right Now Stuff
Quadrant One is generally the quadrant where something is urgent AND important. This is the quadrant of “do this right now because it’s critical!”
Activities and tasks in this quadrant are generally here because of an emergency or because of poor planning on our part.
Perhaps we failed to anticipate a deadline and schedule out the tasks to meet it. Now the deadline is right around the corner and we’re in a huge hurry to get it finished before it arrives.
Activities that fall in this task create stress. And while some people say they thrive on pressure and deadlines (and perhaps they do), constant living in this quadrant takes a toll on us. So as much as possible, it’s preferable to anticipate, plan ahead, and avoid everything except the true emergencies which we couldn’t foresee.
For everything else, let’s plan it ahead of time.
Related Post: 8 Productivity Tips For Entrepreneurs
Quadrant 2: Stuff that’s easy to push aside but shouldn’t be
Quadrant Two is the quadrant of important things that aren’t urgent. This is generally where you should try to spend most of your time because the activities in this quadrant, while not screaming for your immediate attention, tend to be the ones that are most important in helping you move forward.
These are the things like planning, working on the tasks that actually help you finish a project, etc. These are the tasks, though, that have the potential to turn into quadrant one problems if we don’t handle them ahead of time.
That project deadline we just talked about…it can be done scheduled and worked on ahead of time so that it doesn’t turn into a last minute “holy cow!” deadline we end up scrambling to get done at the last minute.
quadrant 3: The stuff you need to get someone else to do
Quadrant Three is items that are urgent, but not that important. These are tasks that can generally be delegated and assigned to someone else to do.
Granted, they still need to get done, but they don’t necessarily have to be done by YOU.
For example, if you’re a blogger, you might have someone else create and schedule your social media posts. If you’re a virtual assistant, you might have someone else handle bookkeeping tasks.
Often other people have better skills to do these things than we do. And when they can do them quicker and more efficiently (and more accurately and with lots less angst), then it’s worth delegating these tasks as soon as you’re able.
By the way, these are the tasks that we often pay someone else to do. But they don’t always have to be paid in money. You might work out an arrangement where you and a business buddy swap off skills. You both get a task you dread done, and you both save money. A win-win for you both.
Related Post: 26 Time Management Strategies You Can Start Using Now!
Quadrant 4: Stuff you just need to forget about
Quadrant Four are all those tasks that are neither important or urgent. These are all those things that you really just need to dump. Or at least not do unless you’re really just taking a break and have planned to waste some time.
Often times, the things in this quadrant are things that we may actually enjoy doing. And there’s nothing wrong with doing them…when everything else is done OR in our free time where what we do doesn’t require any productive activities at all.
how the eisenhower matrix can increase your productivity
Once you’re familiar with the way the matrix works it’s pretty easy to see how using it regularly can help you increase your productivity. It helps you gain clarity on what tasks and activities are need to be done right now, which ones need to be scheduled and time set aside to work on them, which activities need to be aren’t as important and need to either wait or be delegated to someone else, and which ones are just time wasters.
Getting real clear on the value of your tasks helps you know where to spend your time. And once you know WHERE to spend your time, you can make a plan to actually DO the things that will help you achieve those business goals and finish those important projects that move you forward.
Some Favorite time management and productivity tools
I’m a big proponent of continual learning and implementation. Without those two things, we fall back into familiar patterns and then are surprised when we’re in a rut and getting nowhere.
I’ve found several products that I think are worth checking out in the Productivity Bundle. While there are are lots of good things in this bundle, I’ll just touch on a few that I found that are especially pertinent for the work-from-home entrepreneur.
First, Laura Smith has a terrific video that walks you through how to set goals. Goal setting is something that isn’t unique to business, but the process is the same whether you’re setting goals for your personal or business life. It’s definitely an hour of your time to watch.
Second, there is a great book about habit stacking. At 317 pages, this isn’t just a fluffy, make you feel good but deliver nothing, ebook.
Finally, my last two favorites are the book Elevate Your Productivity and Health and Map Your Life. These both focus on intentionality – which is what it takes to achieve success in any life endeavor.
There are other books and courses in the bundle. I suggest you download each of the books to your computer in a folder you label “2020 Productivity Bundle” and that you go ahead and enroll in each of the courses so that you’ve got access to them whenever you need them.
The thing I love about these products is that they’re written by real women with real lives and real responsibilities. They’re not written by men who are making an academic study of the topic, but rather by women (like you and me) who are actually living results daily. Theory can be great, but when life is busy we need practical ideas and suggestions that work.
Go check it out. If you decide it’s not for you then all you’ve lost is five minutes. But you might find that the Productivity Bundle helps you gain clarity, get focused, and become more productive than you thought possible.