How to 10x Your Productivity, Free Up Time, And Get Things Done With The Eisenhower Decision Matrix

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Illustration © Hakan Ozturk

Have you ever heard about the Eisenhower Decision Matrix?

It’s a powerful tool that helps you organize tasks based on urgency and importance so you can free up time to focus on what matters the most and get things done.

In today’s newsletter, we’ll explore this fundamental technique and discover how you can apply its mental framework to all your activities, in particular Customer Success around prioritizing tasks that have a real impact.

The way I schedule my agenda has changed forever since when I first discovered this method in Stephan Covey’s book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”.

And I hope it will help you get the most benefits in your personal and professional life as well!

The famous technique has been named after Dwight D. Eisenhower who served as the 34th US President from 1953 to 1961.

Throughout his life, he was known for his ability to always deliver and achieve his objectives with remarkable levels of productivity.

But how did he manage to do so over the many years?

By simply separating the urgent from the important, something most people fail to do!

Let’s see what it means first.

Definition of Urgent vs. Important

An urgent task is what needs attention right now without any further delay.

In contrast, an important task is what contributes to your core values, objectives, or principles in the long run.

Note that any given task can be both urgent AND important.

Now let’s see how the technique works in practice.

The Magic Quadrant

The Eisenhower Matrix is a square with four quadrants which gives you a clear understanding of how to make decisions consistently.

So, start by drawing a four-box square with an x-axis labeled “Urgent / Not Urgent”, and the y-axis labeled “Important / Not Important”.

You can then separate your actions based on these four scenarios:

  1. Urgent and important (Do right now).
  2. Important, but not urgent (Decide, schedule later).
  3. Urgent, but not important (Delegate to someone else).
  4. Neither urgent nor important (Delete the task).

Let’s explore each of them quickly.

1) DO: urgent and important

These tasks are both urgent and important.

Not only an immediate action is required, but they also contribute to your long-term objectives.

They are also the ones requiring the most focus, time, and energy. This is why you should have these completed within the next 48 hours.

Tip: one way to nail these tasks fast is to apply the Pomodoro Technique I’m also using regularly which I’ll cover in an upcoming edition.

So, don’t wait, do these tasks right now!

2) DECIDE: important but not urgent

These tasks are important to your core values, goals, or principles, but not that urgent.

You should therefore schedule a time to complete them later on, like with a to-do list you’d sort by order of priority.

So, set some time in your calendar to complete these tasks in the upcoming days/weeks.

3) DELEGATE: urgent, but not important

These require immediate action but they are not that important.

You know you can do these tasks by yourself.

But instead, asking for someone else to complete them would free up time for you to complete the other tasks from the previous two boxes (Do & Decide).

However, it’s critical for you to keep track of the tasks you delegate and hold people accountable by writing them down in the meeting notes for example.

So, simply delegate all activities that do not contribute to your overall objectives.

Alternately, you can also automate some of these tasks with software like Zapier. If you need help with it, go ask my friend Mike Cardona who knows it the best!

4) DELETE: neither urgent nor important

These are the activities you should not be doing or at least limit spending time on and simply delete.

They are the ones that make you look and feel busy whereas your focus should be on being productive, which are two different things!

Examples can be like browsing the web just to fill in the void, checking your emails constantly, or running meetings without any agenda.

So, delete tasks that are not urgent nor bring any value to your long-term goals!

And that’s it!

As I always say, distractions are the enemy of productivity.

And to be more productive, you need to start by identifying what you consider urgent and/or important.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What are my goals? What am I trying to achieve?
  • Does what I’m doing contribute to my overall objective?
  • What are the core principles I want to live by?

Then all you need to do is run your day based on this simple yet powerful matrix, focusing on doing things that matter the most to YOU.

In the end, do, decide, delegate, and ultimately eliminate so you can get your time back to do more of the things you love!

Remember: time is your most valuable asset. So you’d better make use of it wisely!


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Have a great week ahead!

And as always until next Sunday, take care friends!

Hakan.


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