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Notes and adaptation of Eisenhower's Urgent/Important Principle: Organize Your Priorities Effectively & Efficiency

December 15, 2017

In my life, I have an insane amount of stuff going on from school, to work, to volunteering, and relationships. As a student, it's especially easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of everyday life and end up finding yourself disorganized.

 

One of the best tools of organization I've ever used is Eisenhower's renown Urgent/Important matrix, where a 4-quadrant template separates your tasks so that you can better prioritize your life.

 

While you can find some more information about this quadrant at Mindtools.com (where I've drawn a lot of my information from), I encourage you to check out how I've broken it down below.

Using the Matrix

 

Eisenhower's Urgent/Important matrix helps you quickly identify the activities that you should focus on, as well as the ones you should ignore. When you use this tool to prioritize your time, you can deal with truly urgent issues, at the same time as you work towards important, longer-term goals.

 

To use the table as seen below, put each of your tasks and activities into one of the following categories:

1. Important and urgent (top left)

2. Important but not urgent (top right)

3. Not important but urgent (bottom left)

4. Not important and not urgent (bottom right)

 

Then, schedule your tasks and activities based on their importance and urgency. The order of priority is indicated below. Personally, I separate my tasks into columns in each quadrant based on the category in which they fall. Though I have listed three below, you can add as many as you want. For further organization and ease of cross-referencing, I suggest using the same categories in your Google Calendar that you use in your table, or vice-versa. You can also use this chart specifically for individual projects to help effectively complete the project by prioritizing the tasks involved in its execution. For ideas on effectively categorizing your tasks, scroll further down.

 

Categorization

While there are surely many ways of doing this, I personally separate my categories by (1) into general categories, then (2) into subsets of those categories. This helps me determine the importance and urgency of each category, then the priority of the individual tasks within each. Once I've outlined my categories, it makes sorting my priorities on the chart later much easier. Additionally, I make sure to use these same categories on my Google Calendar in order to be consistent and make cross-referencing easier.

 

For Example:

 

Once I have these categories laid out, I make sure to keep track of any tasks that pop up for each subcategory by immediately adding them to an ongoing list under each. That way, I can easily add them to the matrix (above) when I get the chance to plan my strategy of completing tasks. Again, you can use the table for both macro and micro organization. For example, I have a table made specifically for planning a formal event because the event itself has many tasks associated with it. Similarly, you can use it to lay out your plan of attack for assignments or projects in school which also have many components.

 

Other Notes and Considerations

1. Know what you like.

Knowing what your passions are will help direct your towards a position that will fulfill you or make you happy.

 

2. Know what you dislike.

Inversely, knowing your dislikes will steer you away from tasks and positions that make you stressed or anxious.

 

3. Know your strengths.

This will help you prioritize tasks based on your ability to get them done. Also, recognizing your strengths will help direct you towards a position that will compliment your abilities.

 

4. Know your weaknesses.

Similarly, this will help you prioritize tasks and determine how much time you will need to spend on tasks, or whether you need help to complete these tasks. Also, recognizing your weaknesses will help direct you towards opportunities for improvement.

 

5. Set short-term and long-term goals.

Knowing what you want will help you better prioritize tasks and help determine the types of tasks you should take on to work towards those goals. Setting short-term goals should keep you on track towards eventually accomplishing your long-term goals by breaking it down into smaller, more manageable steps.

 

6. Know what an “important” task is to you.

Perhaps this type of tasks is one that will help you achieve your goals or lead to opportunities for success.

 

References

“Eisenhower's Urgent/Important Principle” https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newHTE_91.htm

MindTools.com is super helpful. Definitely recommend exploring their website.

 

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    © 2017 by Troy Curtis