‘Too many people let the day happen to them, and then get to the end of it feeling frustrated because another day has passed them by without them achieving anything.’
So many people are feeling overwhelmed at the moment. You may be one of them. Between working from home, running a business, home schooling – you’re run-ragged and probably feeling out of control.
Last week I shared the first step to getting past overwhelm and that feeling of being out of control – a favourite exercise of mine, and step one of a robust and liberating personal management system – the ‘Do Ditch Delegate’ exercise that I know many will have put to good use already!
Once you’ve completed the exercise and have your list of things to ‘Do’ – your next step is to prioritise them, and the best tool I know for doing this, is the Eisenhower Matrix, more commonly called the Urgency vs Importance matrix. It’s a brilliantly simple but effective framework, which helps you to get really clear about what you must do and in what order.
Download your copy of the matrix https://www.dropbox.com/s/1pidkcg5jcr6vdk/Urgency%20vs%20Importance%20Matrix.pdf?dl=0
so you can work through it with me. It’ll make much more sense that way.
The Urgency vs Importance Matrix
As you can see, the matrix has 4 boxes to hold your tasks.
Important, Not Urgent
In the top left we have the box for tasks that are important, but not urgent. Here you will put things that really have to be done and done well, but there’s no imminent deadline for them…yet. Things like setting the dates for your team’s next round of quarterly performance reviews, or putting the agenda together for your next monthly team meeting, or delegating one of your tasks to a team member.
All of these tasks are very important – you want to spend time on them just not right now!
Important and Urgent
In the top right is your box for tasks that are important and also urgent – things that need to be done now, and need to be done thoroughly.
A client has complained and has asked you to call him – urgent and important.
The deadline for giving your monthly report to your boss is tomorrow morning – urgent and important.
You’ve scheduled time for training one of the team in a key task, and need to prepare – urgent and important.
Or maybe it’s a ‘frog task’! (You’ve heard of the expression ‘eat that frog’ or do the task that you really have to do, and really don’t want to do – usually something that you dread doing and have been putting off – sooner or later) – your ‘frog task’ will always sit in the important and urgent box.
These tasks are your most immediate priorities. Do them now and do them well!
Urgent, Not Important
Bottom right is for tasks that are urgent but not important. These are tasks that you need to get done and done quickly, often because they are urgent and important for one of your team, or maybe your boss, if you have one.
Perhaps one of the team is organising a social event, and is waiting to hear your availability.
Often it’s an e mail that’s popped into your inbox, where the sender (maybe a client or your boss) is demanding an immediate response – even though in the scheme of what you have to get done, responding is not important. It’s clearly urgent, so you’ll respond and get it out of the way.
Not important, Not Urgent
The final box is for tasks that are neither important nor urgent. To be honest, if you’ve completed your Big List and been brutal with your Do, Ditch, Delegate, you won’t have anything left that fits this box.
If you haven’t been brutal, you’ll have random things like ‘read e mails I’ve subscribed to’ or ‘check out Clubhouse’!
Don’t waste your time here – it’s way too precious.
Use this matrix once a week to set your priorities and make sure that you’re fully focused on what’s really important for you and your team.
Once you’ve completed your matrix, ask yourself, ‘
What are the three things I must get done today?’
‘If there was only one thing I could get done from my urgent and important box – what would it be?
You want to end the day happy, thinking,
‘Yeh, it was really important that I completed that task (or ideally those three tasks) and I did it – it’s done, off my list, and I’ll sleep easier tonight knowing that.’
Remember what old Eisenhower said,
‘What is important is seldom urgent, and what is urgent is seldom important’
Do one thing: Complete the ‘Do Ditch Delegate’ exercise* if you haven’t already done so and then have a go at the ‘Urgency v Importance Matrix’. They do work!
NB Your Personal Management and Development System is key to building your Business Rhythm, and is step 7 of a 9 step roadmap that we lead our clients along, to build the business-critical systems that will make your business scale-ready, and free you from the day to day of your operation.
To learn more about the 9 steps that will move you from slave to your business to scale-ready, visit: https://www.mariannepage.co.uk/chaos-to-consistency.html
*Last week’s blog contains the Do Ditch Delegate exercise:https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/put-your-own-mask-first-marianne-page/