The Eisenhower Matrix, also known as the Urgent-Important Matrix, is a tool that can be used to help you prioritize tasks. The framework was designed to help prioritize tasks by first categorizing those items in relation to their urgency and importance.
It matrix was invented by Dwight Eisenhower, the 34th president of America. He was required to make several tough decisions and achieved a lot in a small space across two terms in the office. This is down to his ability to differentiate urgent from non-urgent and important from unimportant, giving birth to the Eisenhower Matrix which urges the user to separate tasks based on these factors.
The model can be beneficial in multiple job roles, across multiple industries, but implementing this into my daily routine has been a great addition to my recruitment journey. The following four cubes of the Eisenhower Matrix have been a great tool in my transition into recruiting in the USA.
The DO quadrant falls within the urgent and important section of the Eisenhower Matrix. These are time-specific tasks that, when aren’t completed, bear huge consequences and implications. Working across two time zones is more important than ever, only having short windows to speak with candidates. Tasks that I view in this way are confirming interviews, providing interview links, and closing candidates on job offers. A task that you can hold candidates responsible for can include such as deadlining candidates sharing their updated resumes prior to submission.
The SCHEDULE quadrant falls within the important but not urgent. Tasks that fall within this section hold no set deadlines but can be significant in helping achieve long-term goals. Within the world of recruitment tasks that hold similar attributes would be team meetings, social media posts, email outreach, and business development. Business development has an interesting place within this quadrant, as there are no time limits on this outreach, but the longer it takes for an initial interaction to take place, you may miss a key window of opportunity.
The DELEGATE quadrant falls within the not important but urgent section, which creates a perplexing paradox. This would include tasks that are needing to be completed but don’t need your specific skills to be completed. Once again within the world of recruitment, this can include such things as asking an account manager to chase feedback, asking a team member to organise a team meeting, or similarly requesting a training session around a particular area of development.
The DELETE quadrant falls within the not important and not urgent section and can often be viewed as tasks that can have a negative impact on your day. This would include tasks around certain areas such as replying to spam emails, arranging plans outside of hours, or wasting time on tasks that have expired or have no impact on that day’s success.
In conclusion, why use and implement the Eisenhower Matrix?
A 2018 study examined how individuals went about deciding what task is best to pursue when given multiple choices and decisions. A total of five experiments showed that when faced with such options, people are likely to gravitate towards unimportant yet urgent tasks, that don’t hold long-term payoff over tasks that can be seen as important but less urgent, which hold a potentially greater payoff.
This was deemed by researchers to be the “merge-urgency effect” where individuals choose to indulge in tasks that look urgent, over more long-term beneficial tasks that have greater value in terms of time, value, and energy.
The infamous matrix was popularized by Stephen Covey in his best-selling book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, which brought to light the effective tool. He stated that quadrant 2 is the “Quadrant of Quality”, where time spent completing these tasks increases your overall effectiveness. This is where personal and professional growth meets planning, prevention, and action.
In today’s world of technology, there are several applications out there to help you effectively manage your tasks, several of which adopt this well-known approach. When you’re faced with a set of tasks, how do you decide which to tackle first? Do you select the task that’s going to bring you closer to your long-term goals? Or do you give your attention to the most urgent item on your list?
Use the Eisenhower Matrix to avoid the mere-urgency trap and do more of what's important to you.
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