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Task management for BUSY managers

Updated: Aug 21, 2022

The Eisenhower Matrix

To quote the song are you:

“busy doing nothing, working the whole day through, trying hard to find lots of things not to do”?

Yesterday I introduced The Eisenhower Matrix and asked you to to list your tasks in 1 of 4 boxes

• Important and Urgent • Important but Not Urgent • Not Important and Urgent • Not Important and Not Urgent

Now it is time to look at that Matrix and take action

Box 1: Important and Urgent – Do It!

These are tasks that need to get done quickly. So act now, tick these off. But a word of caution, too much time dealing with issues in this box can lead to long term stress and burnout. If you are feeling overwhelmed you are likely to be spending too long in this box. Look at your list again, are ALL the tasks IMPORTANT and URGENT? Can any task be moved to another box in the matrix?

Box 2: Important but Not Urgent – Schedule It!

This is where dreams live. The stuff you want to get done but is often drowned out by tasks in Box 1. This box is where you accomplish your goals and get to focus on opportunities and growth. By attending to this box more consistently you can help reduce Box 1 tasks in the long term

Box 3: Not Important and Urgent – Delegate It!

These tasks are often set by others and rarely move you closer to your longer term goals. Examples would be:

• Constant interruptions from staff • Constant checking of emails • Some meetings • Some phone calls

This box contains many tasks that are not meaningful for you and have assumed deadlines or deadlines attributed to someone else. Spending too much time with tasks in this box distracts from other more meaningful ones. Sometimes you have to say NO or delegate to others

Box 4: Not Important and Not Urgent – Delete It!

Full or rabbit holes and timewasting, this box is where you spend your working time on wasteful activities such as checking Facebook, avoidance activities and online browsing.

This is not about what you do in your own leisure time, but what happens in the workplace whilst you complain of overwhelm.

If you haven’t downloaded and completed the Matrix I would really urge you to give it a go. As you do each task write it in the box you feel is most relevant. It will give you a great insight into what you are actually spending your time doing.

Martyn Dawes is a Coach, Social Care Consultant, and Author of The Overwhelmed Manager: What To Do When You Don’t Know What To Do

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