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Getting It Done


Get your tasks done by setting right priorities and urgency.
Get your tasks done by setting right priorities and urgency.

Stress is prevalent in today’s lifestyle. With forced work from home, people are finding it hard to get a grip on things to be done.

One of the main reasons is failing to get the important things done. This adds up to guilt bag of not meeting your bosses’ or even your family’s expectations.


We want to do lots. We want to be productive. And we end up taking too many tasks that we can barely manage to look squarely into our task list. 

Facing your task list could be a challenge. We are clueless about where to start. 


Tasks on your list are like those dishes in the sink. It keeps appearing every now and then. 

You don’t want them piled up. 

Because it could plain overwhelm us and then we tend to procrastinate. 

It’s best to get it completed periodically. 


If you are having trouble getting things completed or are mixed up about how to prioritize, there is a tried and tested method to help you. 

It’s the ‘Eisenhower matrix‘ also known as the ‘Urgent Important matrix‘. 


It an effective framework to help you categorize your tasks into 4 different quads. These quads are marked based on priority and importance. It keeps you focussed to get priorities addressed sooner.


(‘Urgency’ indicates that it needs to be done swiftly, whereas ‘Importance’ carries the value of a task)

Remember, everything in life cannot be Super Urgent. 


What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important.

Dwight D. Eisenhower


So let’s get started with building the matrix.


Prerequisites


Write it down

Write down all your tasks (must, should, could, wishlist etc.) on a clean sheet or notebook.

It’s important to get all your task written down. 

Writing will help you collate tasks you had in your head, scribbled in your notepad or sticky notes, to-do’s on the refrigerator, on a reminder app or any other unusual place you may have 🙂


Bring it all in

Combine your workplace and home tasks. Don’t keep them separate. This matrix is for your use only. Trust me, it’s better to juggle just one board or spreadsheet than have multiple things and places to look at.  


Any order is fine

List down the task in any order. What’s important is that you have it written down. 


Don’t overthink

At this moment, we haven’t yet started to build our matrix. So don’t spend too much time analyzing how’s and when’s.


Brainstorming


  • Every task comes with an assumed end date. 

  • Identify those that have crossed their deadline or are due today. Write down ‘Q1’ against them.

  • Identify tasks that are still within their shelf life but have a due date coming up soon. These tasks can be divided between Q2 and Q3.

  • What goes into Q2: Those are tasks that are important to you but not urgent. You can schedule them. Write down Q2 against them.

  • What goes into Q3: Those are tasks that are urgent but not important to you at that time. Those can be delegated. Write down Q3 against them.

  • Tasks that don’t fit in Q1, Q2 or Q3 are for Q4.


Building the Eisenhower Matrix


It’s a 2×2 matrix and has the rows marked for Importance and the columns marked for Urgency. This can be built on a spreadsheet, chart, whiteboard, sticky board etc.

It’s for your personal use. 

The below image is from Wikipedia and can help in understanding the concept.



Quadrant 1: Urgent and Important

If you are starting off with the Eisenhower matrix for the very first time, you could have tasks that missed its deadline and are now ‘Urgent and Important’. Hence it made it’s way to Quadrant 1. It’s alright! We all need to start somewhere and sooner it’s going to get better.

Tasks that enter this quadrant has to be done on priority There is no other go. Also this needs to be done on the same day.

These are your priority tasks. They reached this quadrant since we missed working on it while they were still important and not yet urgent (that’s Q2). 

The more you practice using this matrix and keep track of tasks coming in, you will master it and undoubtedly watch out for tasks about to enter Quadrant 1. 


Don’t panic. Focus on a single task, for a set period of time and get it done. Use a Pomodoro technique to help you focus. I have linked up a site for more reading.


Examples for Q1

Management Review Report, Hand-in Assignment etc.  


Quadrant 2: Not Urgent But Important

These are tasks you can schedule. Put a plan around these tasks (not an elaborate one). Just a few dates will suffice. When will you start, end? It’s fine if you don’t have a date for it yet. But go ahead and place it in Q2. 

If there are dependencies on that task just note them separately, so that you don’t have your board cluttered. 

Remember, the Eisenhower Matrix is not a project plan. It’s a technique to let you know what needs your attention next.

Examples for Q2

Personal time with God, Doctor’s appointment, School fee payment, Lease agreement due, Quarterly Exam, Assignments that are due in the future (near or far) etc.


Q3: Urgent and Less Important 

Tasks you identified as less important but are still urgent will be placed here. These are tasks that can be delegated.


We have lots to get done and 24 hrs may not seem enough. So take assistance. Taking help does not project our incapability. It only shows that our focus is not on ‘I’ but on getting the work done effectively. 


Delegation does not mean that you give to someone and forget about it. 


Guidelines for proper delegation

  1. Make sure your hand over the task to a trained person. Or you could take the time to train someone. 

  2. If delegated, don’t spend time doing it yourself. That would only mean that the person has not yet understood the task the way you have. Explain again. 

  3. Always follow-up on delegated tasks.

  4. Review the delegated task.

Examples for Q3

Preparing the minutes for a meeting, Attending a meeting or a conference call on your behalf, Ordering groceries online, Certain household chores that kids can handle etc.


Benefits of delegation 

  1. You upskill your employees. You create a second in line.

  2. Work can get done in your absence too.

  3. It gives you some free time, where you could focus on things that need more attention.

This is a true account of a man named Moses (around 1446 BC timeline). He held the official position of being a judge for the Israelites. Day in and out, he would handle disputes, differences, fights and give guidance within the community of 2 to 3 million Israelites.  


It was tiring and time-consuming. Only Moses was equipped to perform it at that time.

What’s the largest team size you have handled? Did I hear a million? I didn’t think so.

And here was Moses dealing with a large community, guiding and instructing them according to God’s law in the middle of a desert.

Jethro, Moses’s father-in-law gave him some pretty neat advice on delegation and building competent teams. 

  1. He asked Moses to choose leaders who could manage a cluster of teams broken up in thousands, hundreds, by fifty and tens.  

  2. He then asked Moses to train those leaders and have them govern over their respective teams. 

  3. Only those issues that could not be resolved by the team, would get Moses’s audience for judgement.  

Isn’t that a great lesson for us to learn?

  1. Share the burden of leadership

  2. Delegate the proper authority and let them rule

  3. Ask others to share the burden with you.

You can read more about Jethro and Moses here.


Q4: Not Urgent and Not Important 

Did you realize that we have such tasks too – weighing us down and the task list?

These are tasks that are neither Urgent nor Important. But we do spend time thinking about it and also working on it to a certain extent. 

It is not worth working on it. So you could just plain delete it.


Examples for Q4

  1. Checking social media messages frequently. If anyone urgently needs to contact you, social media is the last place they should try to reach you. They should pick up their phone and call you instead. So stop checking messages frequently. You are not obliged to answer every comment or conversation that you see. 

  2. Dusting or cleaning the whole house top to bottom every day etc. 

  3. A renovation you were thinking of just because you were bored with the current one. etc

Benefits of Eisenhower Matrix

  1. It organizes your thoughts.

  2. There is less stress to remember everything. Cos you now have it in front of you.

  3. Reduces anxiety since you know the priorities of each item and what needs your attention and when.

Points to remember

  1. Try to use a ‘timeboxing’ method while working on tasks.  This will help you focus and try to get the task done within the allocated time. My favourite is the ‘Be Focussed Pro’ app. It is similar to the Pomodoro technique.  

  2. Keep reviewing items on the matrix every day since priority and urgency can change.

  3. Watch out for items that could make its way to the Q1 quadrant. We don’t want that to happen. And can avoid unnecessary stress.

  4. Practicing this method, takes patience. Practice it regularly. 

‘No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. ‘


Here is a picture of a board we use at home. It can be as simple as this. My older daughter usually has fun cutting and giving me pieces of paper.  

This is what we use at home
Eisenhower Matrix board (pic by author)


Interesting facts about Eisenhower matrix


The Eisenhower matrix is named after Dwight D. Eisenhower. He was an American army general and statesman who was also the 34th US President and held the office from 1953-1961. Just 10 days after he took office, he took a step of faith and was baptized at the age of 62. His life was shaped by his faith in God. 

As a President, he had to take lots of tough decisions and that’s how he came upon building a mechanism that helped him prioritize tasks against its importance and urgency.


I have borrowed these interesting facts about Dwight D. Eisenhower from this website. https://www.history.com/news/eisenhower-billy-graham-religion-in-god-we-trust


If you have used the Eisenhower matrix or a similar technique, please leave a comment below. It will be great to hear from you. 


I hope this article has blessed you. Give your best to God.


All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com

The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™


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