Feel like you’re constantly in firefighting 👩🚒 mode and have important projects that keep getting postponed? The Eisenhower Matrix is a great tool to help you (and your team) prioritize!
It is (of course) inspired by Dwight Eisenhower, the 34th President of the United States, who famously said “I have two kinds of problems, the urgent and the important, and the important are never urgent.”
The Eisenhower Matrix in a Nutshell 🥜
The Eisenhower Matrix is a quick exercise to prioritize projects, problems & tasks based on how urgent they are vs. how important they are. The rules are pretty simple:
🏈 Start right away if a task is both important AND urgent
📆 Schedule time for it in the future if the task is important but NOT urgent,
🙋 Delegate the task if it’s NOT (as) important but it is urgent,
🤷♀️ Don’t do the task at all if it’s neither important nor urgent!
Step by Step: how to apply the Eisenhower Matrix
📋 1. Make a list of all your tasks
You can do this on a piece of paper or your favorite online tool. Try and make the list as complete as possible.
🧺 2. Sort into 4 categories
🏈 Important and Urgent Start right away
📅 Important and Not Urgent Schedule for later
🙋♀️ Urgent and Not Important Delegate these to someone else
🙅 Not Urgent and Not Important You shouldn’t be doing these at all
🏈 3. Make important tasks visible
Let your team know about the tasks you’ve defined as important.
Call attention to them in team meetings and written announcements, and clearly mark them as priorities in your project management tool.
🙋♀️ 4. Find owners for delegated tasks
For urgent but not important tasks you’ve decided to delegate, find people to take over ownership and make sure they’re briefed clearly. Since it’s urgent, it’s probably best if you do this in a video call.
Ask them to share daily updates on Slack and schedule weekly check-ins with you to hold them accountable.
🚨 5. Ask about risks
Once you’ve done your Eisenhower Matrix, it’s time to seek out opinions from your team on whether or not any of the tasks or projects are at risk of not getting done on time. Adjust as needed.
And that’s it! Congratulations, you’re managing complexity like a president 😎
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