In his most celebrated book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, the late Stephen Covey popularized a concept what is now known as the Eisenhower Decision Matrix. Credited to the 34 President of United States, it consists of four quadrants as shown below.
Important and Urgent
Important and Not Urgent
Not Important and Urgent
Not Important and Not Urgent
· Time Waters
To make use of this matrix in helping us to organize our personal and business life we must be able to distinguish tasks that are urgent and tasks that are important.
Urgent is associated with tasks that require immediate attention. It generally puts in reactive mode.
Important is linked with tasks that contribute to our long term success, values and goals.
Let us look at each quadrant.
Quadrant 1 -: Important and Urgent
Tasks in this quadrant demand our immediate attention such as:
· Report deadline
· Fire in the pantry
· Certain e-mails
· Drug problem in your office/household
While it is almost impossible to eliminate all the tasks in this quadrant, we must try to minimize it
Quadrant 2 – Important and Not Urgent
Tasks in this quadrant contribute to our vision, mission and goals. It is the most important quadrant in this matrix. We should be spending most of our time doing tasks in this quadrant.
Typical tasks of Quadrant 2 are:
· Daily exercise
· Family time
· Reading good books
· Attending skill enhancing workshops
Quadrant 3: Not Important and Urgent
According to Covey, many people spend most of their time on Quadrant 3 tasks, but thinking they’re working in Quadrant 1. Because Q3 tasks do help others out, they definitely feel important. Plus they’re also usually tangible tasks, the completion of which gives you that sense of satisfaction that comes from checking something off your to-do list.
Most e-mails, meetings, interruptions and daily routine works are in this quadrant.
We should minimize tasks in Quadrant 3 and a simple way for doing this is learning to say no.
Quadrant 4: Not Important and Not Urgent
• This quadrant is where tasks that are absolute time wasters are in. Some are listed below:
• Watching TV
• Mindlessly surfing the net
• Shopping sprees
We should try to eliminate all tasks in this category.
As we can see, it is by spending our time in Quadrant 2 that we are making the best use of our time. And by doing tasks in Quadrant 2, we will eventually find that tasks in Quadrant 1 is getting lesser.
By asking ourselves this question: “What are the tasks that I can do on a regular basis (but not doing it) that will increase productivity “, will help to identify tasks in Quadrant 2.