Time management is something that many of us find very difficult to follow.

I happened to read about a time management process followed by Dwight Eisenhower, the former President of the United States. Eisenhower arranged all his tasks into four quadrants of a matrix called Urgent – Important Matrix to help him with his time management.

As per his thoughts, he split all his tasks into four types:

Eisenhower’s Urgent – Important Matrix

Urgent and Important: Those things that have to be handled right away.
Important, but not urgent: Those tasks that are key for the long term planning, but are not expected to be done right away.
Urgent, but not important: These are the tasks that come because of some critical issue that has to be handled right away. Though it does not add any value in the long term, not doing it urgently, will result in some thing major in the near future.
Not Urgent, Not Important: Those tasks that are at his disposal, but are not urgent and not doing them will not have any impact on anything.

It was very interesting to know that he visited this every morning and made sure he went about completing his tasks in the order given above.

I tried to relate my day to day activities related to work, in a similar way and tried to see how I will classify our tasks in this matrix. While doing it, I also assigned a ‘Priority’ for each of the quadrant, as it makes sense to handle them in the order of priority.

My Implementation of Eisenhower’s Urgent – Important Martix

Priority 1: Urgent and Important:
– Client Committments such as deadlines

Priority 2: Important, but not urgent: Useful for long term goals
– Innovative Ideas – Eg. solutions that will fixing recurring issues
– Growth Opportunities – Expand into latest technologies which will reduce the time to market
– High value – Study alternative solutions to understand how to give best solutions

Priority 3: Urgent, but not important:
– Issues – These are the usual issues that have to be addressed right away to minimize impact, but are of no value to me or the clients.
– Escalations – This is another kind of issue, which has to be handled urgently just because someone else has missed setting the right expectations.
– Recurring maintenance tasks –
– email responses

Priority 4: Not Urgent, Not Important:
– Notifications – I get many of these and so have set an automatic rule to send such emails to my ‘Later’ folder. Later? yeah, that never comes!
– Trivial items – These are other items which are of no use to any one.

Now that I have related my tasks this way, I want to try and see if this helps my task management better. Will update here on this topic in a week or so.