Managing your workload part two - Refining The Eisenhower Matrix

Last week we talked improving your timekeeping, introducing the Eisenhower Matrix and working out the difference between what’s important and what’s urgent. Now let’s look at refining that technique even further.


Returning to the table below from part one of Managing Your Workload last week, this is where we need to be really honest with ourselves…


The idea with the ‘Not Important and Not Urgent’ aspects of the working day is that they are effectively distractions, and things that you could easily strike off your mental to-do list. Falling down a Facebook rabbit-hole fits in here - “I’ll just have a quick look at Gina’s holiday photos” can quickly turn into “look at this cat on a jet ski!”

These things have a place in our own personal space, but can be distraction when we want to get things done.

To further improve our planning and time management, we need to ask the following questions:

  1. For each item on your list, think about:
  • Is this important or not?
  • Will it make a meaningful contribution to my job/life?
  1. Separate them into two categories – ‘Important’ and ‘Not important’
  2. Look again at each of the jobs you marked as Important and ask yourself:
  • Is this urgent?
  • What’s the pressure to get it done now or later?
  1. Separate them into ‘Urgent’ and ‘Not Urgent’
  2. Put each job in the relevant box, and…
  3. Done!



OK, so we’re not completely finished, but it’s probably further than we’ve gotten before. What we’ve effectively done is managed how we are going to spend our time, and what we are going to spend it on.

What you’re left with is a nicely managed series of tasks, priorities, timescales and a better idea of whether you or someone else can do them. That’s a very powerful to-do list you’ve just made there. Well done!

Four Handy Time-Management Tips

  • Starting with a to-do list will focus your mind on what needs doing, but always ask which of those jobs REALLY needs doing first.
  • Limit yourself to no more than eight jobs per square in your matrix – if you’ve got more than that, complete the most important job first before adding another. This is about lightening the load, not filling up your plate.
  • Spend about 10-15 mins to plan out your day in the morning based on what’s on your board – that way you can avoid any distractions, and can explain to other people what your priorities are.
  • Procrastinate much? Then focus on your matrix until the jobs are done.


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