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I have been focusing a lot over the last few months on how to improve my productivity.  It’s something I get asked about – how I organise myself, get focused and work through the daily to-do-list, and there’s not always an obvious answer. Somehow it just gets done! But using this one key productivity hack has changed my working day for the better.

As a ‘multi-hypher’ with lots of hustles on the go, I felt the standard list making wasn’t quite cutting it. Plus I’d usually add FAR too much stuff to it and then feel deflated at that end of the day when I’d only ticked off one or two things (usually the easiest). I was using other productivity hacks but again, nothing was quite hitting it.

Recently I started reading a book called ‘The 5 Choices’ which is all about supercharging your productivity.

In it they talk about something I had learnt about years before (but never put into action) called the Eisenhower matrix.  It’s been such a good way to work for me. You may have heard of it before as the time management matrix.  Its been around decades. Its a powerful tool, still in this day and age.

This productivity hack was also featured in Stephen Covey’s book ‘The 7 habits of highly effective people’ which has helped people not only become more productive, but also less stressed with their work load.

Let me break it down for you…

What is it?

It’s a matrix that helps you decide on and prioritise tasks by urgency and importance, which you then either work on, schedule, delegate or dump!

How it works?

The matrix is built up of these 4 quadrants:

Image of the Eisenhower matrix and its 4 quadrants

So let’s talk through those squares, or ‘quadrants’ as they call them.

Q1

I was finding those tasks that slotted into quadrant 1, constantly smashing me in the face. Yes, they were ‘urgent’ but they were not adding value. It was me putting out fires. Stuff I’d left too late or clients pushing for last minute things. They were not helping me work towards my goals or contributing to my overall end game, but they definitely needed to get done.

Q2

The goal is to spend time on tasks that are important but not urgent. Those are Q2 tasks. This is where the honey is! So essentially, spending time in quadrant 2 and scheduling time into your day/week for it for maximum productivity.  This is so you are working on the tasks that are important but not urgent. So these might be bigger picture things like rebranding or starting a new project. The things you know are good for your business long run but it keeps getting shoved to the back while you fight fires in Q1.

Q3

This is stuff that is urgent but not important. Things like ‘put on my out of office’ or ‘reply to X’s email’. It’s usually things that you need to do for other people. They don’t really benefit you or your business but there is a deadline on them. These are tasks that should be delegated. What happens if you don’t have anyone to delegate to? Perhaps limit your time here or give people more realistic expectations around your time. Either way, you shouldn’t be focusing much time here at all.

Q4

This is where tasks that are neither important nor urgent hang out. In other words, it’s where you go to waste time! Watching instagram videos, scrolling facebook, answering random emails, getting lost online etc… These tasks should be DUMPED! Kicked to the curb!

With this time management strategy, I have been able to effectively focus most of my energy into the tasks that are important but not urgent. Therefore adding real value to my work and business. For the first time I’m feeling less stressed about things I want to do in the future as I know I’m allocating time to them.

Image of Sarah Akwisombe sat at desk working on her phone

So, if I was to ask you what one thing could you change that would have dramatic effects on your business goal or results what would it be? Now, if you were to analyse your daily schedule, how much of that time would you say you were spending on that one task? Not a lot right? That’s because we get so caught up on other seemingly important tasks such as phone calls and meetings.

With the Einsenhower matrix, that stuff stops.  It allows you to focus on what you are spending your time on, compared to how you should be spending your time and then you can create a daily/weekly schedule that will produce long term results.

The productivity hack that actually changes your working day.

Let me know in the comments below if you have tried this matrix, is it working, what results have you produced from using it?

I am also doing an Instagram Live Thursday 13th September 2018 at 8pm. I will be talking all things Eisenhower matrix, explaining in more detail and to answer any questions.

S x