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Increasing Productivity

5 April 2016

Janie read How to Be More Productive and Eliminate Time-Wasting Activities by Using the Eisenhower Box by James Cleary and learned a new strategy for increasing daily productivity.

Tags: janie read, productivity, time management and prioritization

I recently returned to the office after maternity leave, and I’m noticing that I’m struggling a bit with keeping organized and maximizing productivity each day. A colleague recommended that I read James Cleary’s article about a decision matrix that was used by Dwight Eisenhower. Eisenhower lived an extraordinarily productive life so I was excited to learn about one of his strategies for getting things done.

Eisenhower’s method is very straight forward, and if you’ve ever worked with Stephen Covey’s prioritization tools, it might appear fairly familiar. As Cleary describes, Eisenhower used a simple decision matrix to sort tasks into four categories.

  • Urgent and important (tasks you will do immediately)
  • Important, but not urgent (tasks you will schedule to do later)
  • Urgent, but not important (tasks you will delegate to someone else)
  • Neither urgent nor important (tasks you will eliminate)

Urgent tasks are things that you need to respond to quickly, (i.e. emails, phone calls, texts) while important tasks are things that contribute to your long range mission, values, and goals. I sometimes find myself slipping into the bad habit of pushing important tasks aside and spending too much of my time on the urgent. As Eisenhower said, “What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important.” This rings very true for me, and I think remembering this quote will be a helpful reminder when I’m feeling overwhelmed by my to-do list.

This matrix can be used for both daily and long range planning; it can help you decide what tasks should be delegated, and what you need to handle yourself. I am looking forward to testing it out to see if it can help me get more done, both in the office and at home.


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