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Prioritize to success: Eisenhower Matrix

Published : Thursday, 8 February, 2018 at 12:00 AM Count : 756
Shahriar Mithun

"What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is
seldom important"
-Dwight D Eisenhower

The quote suggests, sometimes it becomes difficult to decide what the tasks are that should be done immediately. Do we not often feel like that there is so much to do in a day, a week or even in a whole month? Prioritizing our work can solve this problem. In order to do so, we need a good time management plan.

Time management can be referred as a process to control and actively plan the amount of time we will use for any particular task or work. In this way, it can help us increase the effectiveness and quality of our work. This could help us increase our productivity and reduce our stress significantly. There are a few methods out there for time management. One of those will be discussed in this writing.

'Eisenhower Matrix', also known as Eisenhower Box, can be used to prioritize our work according to importance and urgency. This matrix was proposed by Dwight D Eisenhower, who was the 38th President of the United States of America.
This matrix has two axes. Horizontally it has 'Urgent' and 'Not Urgent'. On the other hand, vertically it has 'Important' and 'Not Important'. This matrix also has four quadrants, and these are given number values of 1 to 4 based on their priority.

Do First
Number 1 is called 'Do It'. Tasks belong to this quadrant are urgent and important for your life and career. That means these must be done by today, or tomorrow at the latest. An example of this kind of work could be -- submission of an important document to your manager. It will be better for you to complete this task as early as possible.

The second quadrant is called Schedule, as these tasks are important but less urgent. Tasks from this quadrant can be scheduled in the calendar to be done later in the week/month. For instance, your plan to start the gym can be an example of a scheduled task. That means going to gym is pretty important to you but not that urgent. It is not like you must start going to gym from today. Rather, it would not hamper your life if you are couple of days late to start the gym.

The third quadrant takes up those works that we can delegate. These works are less important than others but pretty urgent at the same time. We should keep track of these delegated tasks by email, phone call or within a meeting. This will help us to check back on the progress of these works later.

An example of a delegated work could be as follows- suppose someone is calling you for a favor or asking you to attend a meeting. So, if you are unable to do it, you can delegate the job to another person. That means you can refer to someone else who can do these tasks better. Added to that, you can give the caller necessary information over phone, so that they can do the work by themselves.

Don't Do / Eliminate
The fourth and last quadrant is called 'Delete'. This quadrant will help you sort out and eliminate works that you should not do at all. This includes surfing the Internet without any particular reason, gaming too long or any other form of procrastination. It is like finding an excuse to not deal with the important tasks from first and second quadrant.

It is an interesting fact that, by the innate nature of human being, we tend to procrastinate our most important and urgent work, and tend to spend, or rather waste ( ), our precious time in doing the tasks that we are not supposed to do at all in the first place. In order to prevent this, we have to be aware and conscious.

So, if we can prioritize our tasks according to the Eisenhower Matrix, we will be able to maximize our time utility and reach our full potential and productivity. 

The writer is a Fellow,
 Teach for Bangladesh

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