Decision making with the Eisenhower method

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The Eisenhower method helps reduce the stress of decision-making by placing tasks in a grid arranged by importance and urgency.

I find it more appropriate to talk about managing priorities that managing time and the Eisenhower method helps to determine tasks, activities and projects which are urgent and important.

The principal characteristic of management is decision-making. Decisions are vital to taking action in everyday management just as in project management.

Activities which are less important and less urgent do not require your attention immediately by definition, but a manager will still need to rationally evaluate which items should go into which quadrant.

The decision-making process encourages the manager to think carefully when assigning importance and urgency.

The analysis is necessary, but actions are essential to make things happen and making good decisions requires good information, but there must come a time when plans are put into practice, even if not yet perfect.

Stress and decision making

Some people suffer from workload-related stress. Using management solutions for prioritising helps therefore with a manager’s primary task.

eisenhower matrix
eisenhower matrix

The objective is to reduce workload stress by reducing risk. Using Cartesian methods such as the Eisenhower method reduces the pressure in decision-making by weighing choices analytically.

The Eisenhower method is useful for determining daily priorities by scoring tasks on the principle of importance and urgency:

  • Task 1: importance 1, urgency 2,
  • Task 2: importance 2, urgency 2 etc.

It is essential to have just two possible values for each axis: urgency and importance. It is also crucial to decide the score of each task relative to one another.

At any point in time, the tasks to do are those that are both important and urgent. All others are by definition neither sufficiently urgent nor sufficiently important.

On completion of a task, reevaluate all the others to determine how their relative importance or urgency might have changed and give them new scores.

Urgency should not be confused with ‘last-minute’ since it is a relative term. Urgent might be a task to do within a week whereas non-urgent might be to do within a month.

There are some nice apps on Android to manage tasks with the Eisenhower method, such as Effectiveness (on play store)

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