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Introducing the Eisenhower Matrix

The Eisenhower Matrix

I’m jumping in here earlier than anticipated to give you a brief overview of the Eisenhower Matrix.

I posed a question last week on my social media and ended up in a conversation with someone about task management and delegation. 

Now being the super organised Virtual Assistant that I am, I have a whole process for task management which I intend to share through a series of blog posts but for now, I’m jumping the gun to share one of my favourite methods.

First things first, the BRAIN DUMP – get everything that’s in your head out, write it down. 

EVERYTHING. 

There are no rules here, it doesn’t matter how big or small or whether you think it’s relevant or appropriate or not. The purpose of the brain dump is to get everything down in one place and to create some headspace so you don’t feel so overwhelmed every minute of every day. 

So please, write it ALL down.

Once you have your list, this is where the matrix comes in.

The name Eisenhower Matrix is pretty self-explanatory – Dwight D. Eisenhower (34th President of USA) came up with the concept when dealing with the continuous tough decisions he had to make when he was a military general. It’s a 2×2 matrix that will help you categorise your tasks based on their urgency and importance.

So how do you use it?

 As I said above – it’s a 2 x 2 matrix – 4 boxes.

You get your list and you start putting items under the different headings.

It’s largely straight-forward, although the key is not to get too hung up on analysing which task should be in which box. Sometimes it’s hard to decide and that’s ok – none of this is set in stone. So if you put it in one box, it doesn’t mean it has to stay there or that there is only one type of action you can take with it.

You’ll see the matrix below with the 4 headings.

Urgent & Important – Do. These are the tasks YOU need to do, tasks that can’t be delegated, or at least not yet and need to happen any minute now, for example, client work, preparing a quote, or recording a video for social – no-one else can be you!

Non-urgent & Important – Decide. I also like the word plan for this square, but it doesn’t fit in with the D’s! This to me is the nice stuff, the fun stuff, the stuff that is going to help me build my business, the new ideas I want to play around with, and the training course I signed up to but never seem to get around to doing. I would also say that this is the most important section not only because it will you and your business grow and develop, but you also love doing it. Here you want to decide what you are going to do with these tasks, are the ideas viable, do you need to schedule in time to complete that course, do you need to speak to a few people about that idea, etc.  It’s so important to plan this section into your diary otherwise, you run the risk of losing it. 

Urgent & Not Important – Delegate. It’s ‘important’ to note here that by not-important I’m not talking about inconsequential tasks that won’t impact you or your business. these are still things that need to be done & pretty pronto but does it need to be you doing them? Could someone else do them? Your end-of-year accounts, recruiting a new member of staff, scheduling your social media posts for example. For more ideas on what you can outsource see my post: An introduction to outsourcing.

Non-Urgent & Not Important – Delete. It’s hard to just delete tasks, or cross them off the list, so you can sit with these. For me, it’s about realising that because they aren’t urgent or important they no longer require my headspace. Some of these tasks can also be difficult to cull, like scrolling through social media, a time sucker but irresistible. There may also be tasks on here that you don’t want to delete, for example, binge-watching a box-set, but then I’d class that as not urgent but important!!

Ta Da!

As I said it’s a bit of a whistle-stop tour of Eisenhower and I do intend to go into more detail on how it works as part of a larger task management process that I use here at Balance VA Services, but I hope it’s enough to give you an overview and start putting it into practice. 

Please let me know how you get on, I’d love to know how you found it, if you tweaked it at all, or even if it wasn’t the system for you. Just because it works for me, doesn’t automatically mean it will work for you.

You can email me at hannah@balance-va.co.uk

If you’d like to get hints & tips to help you create the space you need to concentrate on the things you love to do, whatever they may be, sign up to the Balance VA Services Newsletter