We mere mortals are painfully aware that time is our most precious and most expensive resource.
Unless you’re Hermione Granger, you don’t get to live the same second twice – and even her Time Turner had its limitations. So purposeful time management is crucial if you’re going to live your Best Life Ever! Now, if everyone could manage their time perfectly, Kimi and I would be out of the job. (Eh, that’s not true, we’re pretty kickass problem solvers, we’ll always find ways to help people live bigger, better, more epic lives! Either that or we’d sell all of our earthly possessions and become gypsies who travel the world in a luxurious camper van decorated with Unicorns.) Time Management is one of the most common challenges that we hack with our clients. Everyone needs more time but no one knows where to find it. In our Purposeful Productivity course, we dedicate an entire week to sharpening our time and energy management skills.
In any self-improvement journey, whether it’s fitness, career, or personal development, awareness is key. We have to start with understanding how we’re currently operating so we can tweak it and make it more efficient, more productive, and more joyful! To help us identify where we may have room for adjustment in the way we’re spending our time, we’d like to introduce you to our latest productivity obsession: the Eisenhower Decision Matrix or the Eisenhower Box. Many of us know Dwight D. Eisenhower as the 34th POTUS, but what some of us don’t know is that D-Money was also a five-star general commander of Allied Forces in Europe during World War II. So Mr. Eisenhower was a busy man, to say the least. During the war, time was of the essence, and Eisenhower created a framework to guide his decisions about where and how he spent his time because his soldiers and his country depended on it – no pressure.
Today, productivity experts have tweaked Eisenhower’s theory to reflect more modern decision-making ideals, but the foundation of the Decision Matrix remains the same. One axis represents the degree of urgency of a specific task. The other axis represents importance. Based on this framework, we’d like to formally introduce you to our interpretation of this ingenious little gem.
Quadrant 1: Important + Not Urgent
This is the sweet spot. Most, if not all versions of the Eisenhower Box are in agreement that operating in Quadrant 1 maximizes your productivity and fulfills your higher purpose. This is where that deep, meaningful work lives. Tony Robbins presents a version of the Eisenhower Box in his Personal Power II program. TR’s version of Eisenhower’s theory features concentric circles, and Quad 1 is right smack dab in the middle and it’s labeled: “FULFILLMENT”. This, my friends, is indeed the sweet spot. Unfortunately, in today’s society, most of us spend a very small amount of time in Quadrant 1.
Quadrant 2: Important + Urgent
Instead, we often find ourselves in Quadrant 2 (and 3). Quad 2 is where the fires live. The important and urgent tasks that just can’t wait. This is that report that’s thrown on your desk on Friday afternoon that needs to be done by the weekend, or your child’s teacher calling to say she has a fever and needs you to pick her up. Sometimes, we can’t help the things that fall under Quadrant 2, but while we’re doing these tasks, we’re definitely not getting to the meat and potatoes in Quadrant 1.
Quadrant 3: Not Important + Urgent
We also find ourselves in Quadrant 3 more than we probably should. These tasks are deceptive. What’s not important but urgent? A phone call, an email, a text message, a scheduling request, responding to a post on social media. Quad 3 is littered with other people’s priorities. At first glance, it may seem like these are things that you have to take care of as they come in, but in reality, these are low-level tasks that can wait, or better yet, be done by others. Since they’re urgent but not necessarily important, actions that fall in Quadrant 3 are great candidates for delegation or automation! If you truly have to be the one to take care of these tasks, dedicate a (small) block of time to do them, then move on. You’ve got dreams to build, baby!
Quadrant 4: Not Important + Not Urgent
When we introduce this concept, most people immediately see a task in Quadrant 4 as a waste of time, something you shouldn’t ever do if you want to maximize your time and energy. This is partially true. Distractions like mindless Facebook scrolling, playing Candy Crush, or lounging a little too long in the break room definitely qualify for Quad 4 and can significantly cut into your productivity. While unimportant and non-urgent tasks can absolutely be a waste of time, they can also bring you great joy! Surfing, reading, hiking, playing with your dog, playing with your kids, board games, even watching TV are items that fall in Quadrant 4. These may not directly contribute to your bottom line, but they will likely increase your energy, enhance your mood, and raise your vibration.
These tools serve as gentle guides to help us level-up our productivity, efficiency, happiness, and quality of life. Because this beautiful life is dynamic and full of layers, we can’t classify everything in one of these four categories. But if you’re looking for a general rule of thumb, I feel pretty safe passing on some advice that we heard from Tony Robbins when he introduced this concept. TR says the people who feel most fulfilled spend about 50% of their time in the sweet spot. Create time for deep work and meaningful relationships, and spend less time putting out fires and doing low-level tasks. Finally, make time for the things that make your heart sing, the nonessential delights that bring you laughter, joy, and relaxation.
For more strategies and tools to maximize our efficiency and productivity so we can create more time for the things that really matter in our lives, Join our Tribe on Facebook & connect with other entrepreneurs kicking ass & living their Best Life Ever!