Instructions for using the work management matrix for Entrepreneurs

Work management matrix, also known as time management matrix, Eisenhower matrix.. It is used to divide tasks into 4 boxes. Each quadrant has a specific call to action such as do, schedule, delegate, or remove. Each quadrant has its own priority level. Tasks in quadrant 1 should be done first. While tasks in quadrant 4 should be done last or eliminated.

What is the Eisenhower Work Management Matrix?

The Eisenhower task management matrix is ​​also known as the Eisenhower priority matrix. It is an effective method of managing work based on urgency and importance criteria. Eisenhower divided the task list into 4 boxes. Each cell represents a different classification of tasks: Tasks to do first, tasks scheduled for later, tasks to delegate, and tasks to delete. This matrix is ​​named after US President Dwight D. Eisenhower.
Dwight D. Eisenhower was the 34th President of the United States and a five-star general during World War II. He presented the idea that later led to the Eisenhower Matrix. In a 1954 speech, Eisenhower quoted an unnamed university president as he spoke. “I have two types of problems, urgent and important. Urgent things are not important, important things are never urgent.” 
Stephen Covey, author of the book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, took Eisenhower’s words. And used them to develop a popular work management tool, called the Eisenhower Matrix.

The essence of the Eisenhower work management matrix

The essence of this matrix is ​​to focus on prioritizing and managing tasks based on their importance and urgency. This method helps separate and classify tasks into different groups. From there, decide how to approach and use time effectively.

Critical level

This is the aspect that measures how a task affects long-term goals and personal values. They can be related to personal growth, career, relationships, health or larger goals in life. Tasks at this level do not yield immediate results, so it is easy to get distracted.

Emergency Level

This is the aspect that measures the intensity and time required to complete a task. Urgent tasks often involve deadlines. Requests that are immediate or have tight deadlines, can have consequences if not completed in time.

Classification of tasks

Based on importance and urgency. The Eisenhower Matrix classifies tasks into four different categories.
  • Important and urgent.
  • Important but not urgent.
  • Urgent but not important.
  • Not important and not urgent.
Each type of task requires a different approach and handling.
By categorizing tasks and determining the appropriate approach for each, each individual can use their time effectively and achieve balance between personal and work goals. Many people think that urgent tasks are important, but in reality they are not.

The meaning of applying the Eisenhower work management matrix

Improve work efficiency

When we know how to manage our time effectively, we will be able to complete more work in less time. This will help improve work efficiency and achieve goals quickly.

Prioritize work

The work management matrix allows determining the priority of tasks. Work can be classified into different priority levels. From things that need to be done immediately to things that can be postponed. This helps focus on the most important tasks. Avoid wasting time on unimportant tasks.

Allocate time appropriately

Work management matrix helps allocate time appropriately for tasks. The time required to complete each task can be determined. And plan based on available time. Helps avoid work overload. Make sure each task is done on time.
Clearly define your goals
A time management matrix helps define the goals and objectives of each task. By attaching goals to each job. Each person will have motivation and clear instructions to complete the job effectively. This matrix also helps track work progress. Evaluate progress and adjust plans as necessary.

Reduce stress

When you don’t have to worry about unimportant or urgent tasks. We will feel more comfortable and less stressed. Equipped with a better spirit to work. Avoid being overloaded, have time to rest and relax. This helps improve the balance between work and personal life.

4 Levels in the Eisenhower work management matrix

Quadrant 1 – Urgent and important

The first quadrant is the “Resolve Now” quadrant. This is the box where any task is both urgent and important. Usually accounts for 15 – 20% of the time budget. When there is a task on the to-do list that must be done immediately. Has clear consequences and affects long-term goals. Let’s put it in this quadrant. 
Top priority tasks can be divided into the following groups:
  • Work appears suddenly and cannot be predicted in advance
  • Jobs can be known in advance and scheduled to prepare, they are often periodic or repetitive in nature
  • The work is not completed even though the deadline is approaching
To control these tasks, plan ahead every day, week, or even month if necessary. Apply the principle of “Doing the Hard Thing”. Complete the hardest work first. Completing these difficult tasks will create motivation and confidence to continue doing other tasks. At the same time, increase discipline at work. Being proactive in arranging work will help minimize risks and achieve better results.

Quadrant 2 – Important, not urgent

The second quadrant is the “Schedule” quadrant. This is where any tasks that aren’t urgent but are still important are placed. Because these tasks affect long-term goals. But it doesn’t need to be done right away, so these tasks can be scheduled for later. It takes up about 60 – 65% of the time.
Work on these tasks immediately after solving the tasks in quadrant one. Use various time management tips to help complete tasks in this quadrant. Some useful strategies are such as the Pareto principle or the Pomodoro method.
However, jobs in this quadrant do not have time pressure. So it’s easy to neglect and delay implementing them. This can lead to important work being overlooked or pushed back for long periods of time. Influence the progress and success of long-term goals. At this angle, it is also difficult to clearly determine the priority order between tasks. Leading to ineffective use of time and resources. Affects the final result.

Quadrant 3 – Urgent, not important

The third quadrant is the “Trust” quadrant. This is where any tasks that are urgent but not important are placed. These tasks must be completed immediately but without affecting long-term goals. They take 10 – 15% of the time to complete. Such as booking airline tickets, answering emails,…
Because there is no personal attachment to these tasks. And they may not require completing a certain skill set. Should be able to delegate to others. Delegating tasks is one of the most effective ways to manage workload. And give the team the opportunity to expand their skill sets. Delegation is applied by most administrators when they are overloaded with work. There are unimportant tasks in there. Can be entrusted to subordinates to handle.

Quadrant 4 – Not urgent, not important

Leftover tasks are tasks that are not urgent or important. These unimportant, non-urgent distractions simply get in the way of goal accomplishment. Put these remaining items on the to-do list in quadrant four. That is the “delete” quadrant. Or you should only spend 5% of your time on them. These tasks are such as surfing social networks, going out for coffee and chatting with friends,…
Tasks in this quadrant are not necessary. And does not contribute to long-term goals or interests. These activities should be carried out for a long time. Or remove them completely and they form the lowest priority group.

Effective method of using Eisenhower time matrix

Make a to-do list

This is a basic process that provides an overview of the tasks and tasks being faced. When making a list, write down all the tasks, tasks, or goals that need to be completed. Helps avoid forgetting any work and has a clear view of the scope of your work.
After making the list, classify tasks based on two criteria: important and urgent. Tasks classified in the “important and urgent” box are tasks that need to be prioritized first. Tasks classified in the “important but not urgent” box are tasks that need to be done as soon as there is time. Tasks that fall into the “not important but urgent” box are tasks that can be delegated or postponed. Tasks classified as “not important and not urgent” are tasks that can be removed from the list.

Color classification by level for each job

Color grading will make it easier to track and classify tasks. Typically, people will use the following colors to classify tasks according to the Eisenhower time matrix:
  • Important and urgent: Red
  • Important but not urgent: Blue
  • Urgent but not important: Green
  • Not important and not urgent: Yellow

Learn to say no

Determine what’s important: Think about what you value in life and work. Helps identify important tasks that need to be prioritized.
Be clear about your time and abilities: When someone asks to do something, let them know what you can and cannot do.
Be polite and firm: When refusing someone, show respect and firmness.
Learning to say no is an important skill needed for effective time management. When it is possible to refuse requests that are not important or not urgent. We will have more time to focus on more important things and achieve our goals.

Eliminate unimportant things before focusing on completing the task

Many people often make the mistake of doing unimportant tasks that do not bring high value to themselves. The reason is because they feel uneasy when skipping these jobs. Or they think it’s okay to take a little time to do it. However, this will cause you to run out of time and not be able to focus on more important tasks.
Eisenhower’s time management method can help solve this problem. This method is based on two criteria: important and urgent to classify jobs. Important and urgent tasks should be prioritized first. Unimportant and non-urgent tasks should be eliminated or postponed.
Eliminating unimportant and non-urgent tasks is not laziness. This is a way to practice judgment and decision making. When possible, eliminate unimportant tasks. There will be more time to focus on tasks that are important and bring high value to yourself.

Evaluate work and level of goal accomplishment

Evaluating work performance is an important step in the time management process. This evaluation helps determine what work has been done effectively. Tasks that need to be adjusted and tasks that need to be prioritized in the coming time.
For long-term jobs, results should be evaluated after a certain period of time. Such as 1 week, 1 month or 1 quarter. This helps ensure work is on track and meeting goals.
For tasks that have not achieved the expected effect or have not been completed. Time and resources should be arranged to continue implementation in the future. Regularly evaluating work results will help manage time more effectively.

Notes when applying the Eisenhower time management matrix

Distinguish between important and urgent work

One danger of not distinguishing between important and urgent tasks is a focus on urgent tasks that have no real value. This can lead to wasting time and resources on things that do not contribute to the overall goal. Therefore, distinguishing between important and urgent work is essential when applying the Eisenhower matrix.

Clearly define your goals

Clearly defining your goals helps you know which tasks and jobs are most important to achieving that goal. If you don’t have a clear goal, you will likely get lost. And spend time on tasks that are not important or related to the overall goal. Goals also provide a standard for evaluating progress and success.

Set an implementation deadline

Setting specific deadlines helps you stay focused and complete work on time. Avoid being distracted by unrelated tasks. At the same time, re-evaluate the importance and urgency of each job.
Without setting specific deadlines, each individual can easily get caught up in unimportant tasks. Or procrastinate on important tasks. Makes achieving goals more difficult.

Monitor and update regularly

Employment status may change over time. Therefore, it is necessary to update the matrices regularly to ensure that they always accurately reflect the current state of affairs. Helps reassess the importance and urgency of each task. Identify new jobs that need to be added to the matrix and eliminate jobs that are no longer needed.
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