Eisenhower’s Effective Time Management

Eisenhower’s Effective Time Management

Yes – that Eisenhower. If you use this time management approach, you’ll be organizing your time using the approach that was advocated and practiced by the 34th President of the United States of America.

Dwight David "Ike" Eisenhower, 34th president of the United States
Dwight David “Ike” Eisenhower

What is Eisenhower’s Effective Time Management Model?

Eisenhower once noted, “What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important”. His approach to Time Management was to determine priorities for issues or tasks in two dimensions:

  • Importance (outcome focus)

  • Urgency (time focus)

By plotting issues and tasks against the dimensions of importance and urgency, they can be mapped onto a 2×2 grid, which can be used as a guide to the most appropriate action to take.

The Eisenhower Matrix
Delegate, Do, Decide, and Delete. The four quadrants of The Eisenhower Matrix

How to use Eisenhower’s Time Management Matrix

There are six steps to creating your own matrix

  1. Create a list of tasks and issues
  2. Rank them by importance (outcome focus). If time and deadlines were not an issue, which items on your list would be the most important.
  3. Rank them by urgency (time focus). What is the absolute deadline, or the latest possible date to tackle the list item?
  4. Plot them on a graph
  5. Divide into categories
  6. Decide what to do

Deciding what to do should be easy at this point. Items in the top-right box are Urgent/Important. They are your priority items and you need to Do them now! Items in the top-left are Urgent but not very Important. If these are not fun, you may wish to decide not to do them at all. Otherwise, you should look to Delegate them to others.  For the bottom-right, the high importance, low urgency items, you can Decide when to do tackle them. Book time in your diary to get these done, but try not to leave them until they hit the ‘Do’ box! Finally, items in the Low/Low category are those that you should be looking to delete altogether.

When to use Eisenhower’s Time Management Matrix

The Eisenhower Time Management Matrix is great for helping prioritize a personal task list or a team task list. The key thing with the matrix is to recognize that you cannot do everything. Eisenhower’s matrix is a useful tool to train yourself on how to effectively prioritize and take control of your diary. It is an important discipline to master for anyone in the PMO.

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