Are you tired of creating endless “to-do” lists that seem useless? Does your work flow get interrupted by additional small tasks you easily lose track of? Us too. But if you’re anything like us, you probably still need a way to visualize all your active tasks. So, why not separate them into “priority” categories? Not to get all “historical” on you, but I’m going to for three sentences. American productivity soared during the Cold War Era. During this time, President Eisenhower was extremely pressed with tasks and decisions, which ultimately led to him developing the Eisenhower Principle. The Eisenhower Decision Matrix stems from the president’s famous words, “I have two kinds of problems, the urgent and the important. The urgent are not important, and the important are never urgent.” For IT support, and other businesses alike, client assistance ALWAYS lands in the Urgent/Important category. But let’s talk more about the Eisenhower Matrix to maximize your daily productivity.
There’s No Turning Back – The (Decision) Matrix
The key to productivity is being able to prioritize tasks and finishing them in a timely manner. Seems easy, right? Unfortunately, it’s more likely that we naturally group our tasks into one category, the Urgent/Important category, which inevitably leads to us being overwhelmed. It is important to note what the differences between urgent and important are. Important tasks are inevitable; they’ve got to get done to keep a company running smoothly. Urgent tasks must be done quickly, because they typically pop up from out of nowhere. So, to help you place your action items, we’ll go over what each category entails!
Urgent/Important – The “do-first” quadrant holds the tasks you need to get done the same day. Sometimes tasks pop up midday and fall into this category, but don’t fret. Just focus on finishing the other tasks in this quadrant first. In IT support, this category deals with issues that are affecting multiple work departments and creating work stoppages in those departments, such as a shared drive being down, or a main line of business software, like ERP, is not functional.
Less Urgent/Important – This stuff can be scheduled out. Instead of trying to accomplish them right away, these tasks can be put onto your weekly calendar according to their due dates. Any proactive maintenance or software patches that aren’t directly impacting someone’s work AWAYS get put off. If the website, or your existing software and hardware, etc. are working, they tend to go un-updated until they no longer function properly. Schedule these out and make them happen!
Urgent/Less Important – The “delegate” section contains tasks that are not important to YOU necessarily but are urgent nonetheless. These tasks can be sent out to others to work on and progress can be tracked through emails, telephone calls, or meetings. IT support usually finds this category to involve only one user affected by something that was either put off until the last minute or it is only affecting that one themselves. But that one person REALLY needs to be able to accomplish the task at hand, because it was probably due the day before everything went south.
Less Urgent/ Less Important – This category is sort of the “backburner” section. It’s not life or death, and productivity really isn’t being affected by these small tasks. Example: I’m missing my icon. My voicemail is acting kinda funny. This text on my website isn’t lined up right. You get the memo.
There are also numerous applications for cell phones and laptop computers to integrate digital Eisenhower Matrices into your daily life. On Google Play, Ike – To-Do List, Task List is a popular app using the Eisenhower Matrix, because it is free (unless you want the pro-version), includes a wide variety of helpful features, and has a calendar integration to help with reminders. This website also offers a printable PDF template for hardcopy matrices.
The main advantage of this form of organization and prioritization is stress-relief. We understand how overwhelming it is running a business, and it is our mission to help alleviate some of that stress. Plus, the Eisenhower Decision Matrix challenges you to remember all of the tasks that get done, so nothing accidentally slips through the cracks. Why not give it a try? This could be just the ticket to less procrastination and more work completion!