In The News

Thu 10 Mar 2016

The Eisenhower Time Management Way


You’re swamped, and you’ve been asked to create an urgent presentation! Your to-do-list is running rampant with urgent tasks, anxiety sets in and concentration disappears.

Let me introduce you to a time management tool to help you beat stress and deliver great work!

I often use the Eisenhower Principle which allows you to consider priorities and decide which of your activities are important and which are distractions.

Where does the Eisenhower Principle come from?

It comes from US President Dwight D. Eisenhower. In 1954 he gave a speech to the Second Assembly of the World Council of Churches, quoted Dr J. Roscoe Miller, president of North-western University, said, “I have two kinds of problems: the urgent and the important. The urgent are not important, and the important are never urgent.” This is how he organised his workload and priorities.

How to Identify Urgent and Important

You need to spend time on activities that are important and not just urgent. What’s the difference?

  • Important activities have an outcome which helps us achieve our goals.
  • Urgent activities require immediate attention.

When you know which activities are important and which are urgent, you can overcome the tendency to focus on unimportant urgent activities, and create enough time to do what’s essential.

How the Eisenhower Principle Works

  • Create a to-do-list which lists all the activities that you know you need to do. Include everything.
  • Categorise each activity:
    • Important, urgent
    • Important, not urgent
    • Not important, urgent
    • Not important, not urgent

Categorise your Activities

  1. Important, Urgent

There are 2 types of important and urgent activities; ones that come out of the blue or those that you’ve left until the last minute. Plan ahead. But as in life, there are often things that we can’t predict.

The best approach is to leave some time in your schedule to handle unexpected important activities. If a crisis breaks out then reschedule other tasks.

  1. Important, Not Urgent

These are the activities that help you achieve your goals, and finalise work. You need to make sure that you schedule in enough time for this, as it will help you stay on track and reduce stress levels.

  1. Not Important, Urgent

These tasks are the ones that will stop you from achieving your goals. Try and either reschedule them or delegate. Learn to say no.

  1. Not Important, Not Urgent

Avoid these activities if possible – they are a distraction keeping you from doing important work. These activities relate to others, so you’ll have to say no.

If you use the Eisenhower Principle to manage your time, you’ll be on top of your workload and performing at your peak.

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