Time management is a term often used when you work in a time conscious environment. For example: Home Building, you can’t paint without sheetrock and you can’t hang sheetrock without framing. When building a house there are specific time frames contractors have to meet to get inspections passed. Another example that may hit closer to home for most of us is planning out who you need to round on or meet with for the day, which needs are most important versus which are most urgent. These time management skills are most crucial when you feel like you have 1,000 tasks to accomplish and only 8 hours in your work day. I always start my mornings with a cup of coffee, if not two some mornings, I also take time to write out my to-do list of what I to do/or need to accomplish that day. This exercise can also be done in the evening and you can review it in the morning, but take the time to actually write out what you need to do. By writing out your tasks you can better manage what is important and what is urgent. A tool to help with important tasks versus urgent tasks is the Eisenhower Matrix.
The Eisenhower Matrix is a tool that can help you quickly identify the tasks you should be focusing on as well as those you should be eliminating. There are four quadrants that make up this matrix.
- DO – Important and Urgent: These are the tasks that you will do immediately- high deadline costs
- SCHEDULE – Important but NOT urgent: These are the tasks you will schedule to do later. Stephen Covey emphasizes that this is the quadrant that you should focus on for long term achievement of goals.
- DELEGATE – NOT important but urgent: These are the tasks you should delegate to someone or have them automated. Author, Timothy Firnstahl, offers great insight on this quadrant: “Delegating means letting others become the experts and hence the best”
- ELIMINATE – NOT important and NOT urgent: These are the tasks you should be doing last or not at all.
Here are a few examples of how to add the Eisenhower Matrix into your daily routine. You can practice it digitally on your computer or tablet, use a whiteboard, print the downloadable version, or even get a big piece of paper and hang it in your office using sticky notes for each task. This tool provides a simple method for seeing what projects/ tasks need to get accomplished as well as the priority of each. However you decide to implement the Eisenhower Matrix it will undoubtedly improve your time management skills.