Managing time effectively seems so hard? Act like Eisenhower!
Written by Rodolfo Parlati on 12/04/2022
Every day, each of us is inundated with information so learning to avoid distractions and focus on your goals seems a particularly difficult undertaking. Whatever your goal, you always have 24 hours at your disposal like anyone else and you need to be able to optimize them. Managing time effectively means improving the management of your own life. So, time is the most important resource you have, and if you can’t manage it, you can’t be effective.
Good time management is the foundation of your personal and professional success. Being in control of your time is essential to increasing your efficiency and productivity. This is because, both in work and in private life, managing time well allows you to achieve more with less effort, raise your concentration threshold, improve your working efficiency and decision-making skills, as well as increase your free time. A way for managing time effectively is to define priorities well. A tool, known as the “Eisenhower Matrix”, comes to your aid in this.
Everything started from a quote attributed to US President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Starting from the urgency and importance principles, it was possible to create this tool, in which you can evaluate your tasks based on both two principles, and then choose which ones you need to focus on, and which ones do not. Here is how it works.
The Eisenhower Matrix
Quadrant 1: Both urgent and important tasks
The first quadrant highlights urgent and important activities. These require your immediate attention and are also fundamental to achieving your values, long-term goals and fulfilment in life. Such tasks usually regard aspects like deadlines, issues, or crises. Here are some examples:
- Health issues
- Unforeseen events related to home, family, accidents, and similar
- Tax deadlines
- Some crucial communication
It is essential to pay attention to not confuse urgency with importance. Urgency leads to anxiety and nervousness, while importance refers to calmness and rationality. Thanks to effective organization, planning and prevention, most of these tasks can be better managed or limited. The question to make to yourself is whether you need this or not.
Quadrant 2: Not urgent and important tasks
In this case, the activities are the ones that, despite the absence of pressing deadlines, are important to help you achieve your personal and professional goals. Such tasks are usually focused on learning, planning for your future and strengthening relationships. Some examples are listed here:
- Long-term planning
- Personal growth
- Quality family time
- Financial planning
These are the tasks that can contribute to your success, happiness and general fulfilment. So, the key is to mainly focus on these activities because these are the ones that can make a big difference in your life.
Very often, it can happen to experience some limitations and blocks that can prevent you from dedicating the necessary time and effort to these activities. More precisely, every time you have a wrong perception of the present moment, or when you don’t have a clear idea of what it’s crucial for you. This is the reason why you need to live your life consciously and proactively.
Quadrant 3: Urgent and not important tasks
This quadrant shows the activities that require immediate attention from you but they don’t help you achieve your objectives. Many times, they refer to interruptions from other people asking for your support in fulfilling their priorities and meeting their goals. Here are some examples:
- Most emails, calls and messages
- Requests for solving trivial problems
- Some meetings
- People interrupting your work
Some people like helping others solve their problems but the question is that these are not crucial for you, but for them. Over time, this can lead you to higher frustration, distrust in your capabilities and even resentment toward those people. Hence, it is essential to delegate these tasks as much as possible and set the right balance by giving higher priority to your activities and goals and overshadowing the requests from others.
Quadrant 4: Neither urgent nor important tasks
The activities included in the last quadrant are neither important nor urgent. They mostly refer to distractions. Some examples are the following:
- Excessive TV watching
- Playing video games
- Browsing the internet mechanically
- Scrolling through social networks mindlessly
These activities are time wasters and add no value to your life. They can indeed help you relax but make sure to give them a limited amount of your time. More precisely, you should consider spending no more than 5% of your waking in such activities.
Be the “President” of yourself
Managing time effectively is the most precious way you have to improve your personal and professional life. Time slowly erodes without giving you prior notice. So, seriously think of investing it by maximizing the activities contained in quadrant 2. These are the ones that can help you move the ball and make real progress in your existence. Actually, the key question for you is: “Am I doing this activity because it’s urgent or important?” So, begin to take action and become conscious of how you invest your time!
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