It’s 2020, a number that surely should only be cited in futuristic Sci-Fi films not the date on your calendar. But here we are and like every fresh shiny new year, it the perfect time to get organised, plan for the 12 months ahead and set ourselves some new goals.

Most people are entering January with a hangover of work carried through from 2019, plus a whole new to do list of tasks and plans that need to be actioned. The combination of existing workload along with plans and targets for the new year can feel pretty overwhelming.

We all have the best of intentions when it comes to prioritising our workloads but often it’s the jobs that may be urgent but aren’t necessarily important that take away our time and focus from what really matters. That’s where the Eisenhower Matrix comes in.

The Eisenhower Matrix, also referred to as the Urgent-Important Matrix, helps you decide on and prioritise tasks by urgency and importance, sorting out less urgent and important tasks which you should either delegate, automate or not do at all. Urgent but not important tasks are often the things that are driven by other people that can prevent you from achieving your goals.

The Four Quadrants of Time Management

  • Important and Urgent: These are the things that have consequences if they aren’t actioned right away. These could include deadline driven tasks, crises and emergencies.
  • Important but Not Urgent: Strategy, planning, relationship building and business improvement. These are the tasks that take time and concentration and are essential to your long term goals.
  • Less Important but Urgent: Interruptions and busy work. These often don’t move you any closer to your goals, but require attention and can’t be sidelined. This quadrant should be delegated.
  • Not Important and Not Urgent: Time wasting activities that need to be cut out of your time and business.

 Once you take your task list and slot each item into the matrix, you can quickly see how your time and focus can be taken away from achieving what’s important.

 But how do you improve your working practices and make things more efficient? The answer might be to outsource. Imagine taking the tasks in your Less Important but Urgent and giving them to someone else to manage? Or having someone support you in the Important but Not Urgent realm of tasks that often don’t get enough of your time attention as you’re pulled away by your non-strategic but urgent tasks.

Take some time today to write out your to do list and see which quadrant of the matrix these tasks should be dropped into. You could then start to use these matrix headers in a time management tool such as Trello to help you manage your time more effectively and highlight the tasks that keep dragging your focus away from your core business. You might find it changes your whole outlook on how your time should be spent in 2020.

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