Two-Dimensional Task Planning with the Eisenhower Matrix

August 07, 2011
Image by http://www.sxc.hu/photo/528071

What is the Eisenhower Matrix?
Because traditional, linear task management systems only allow a temporal arrangement of tasks, they often lead one to prioritize urgent tasks over important tasks. That is due to the fact that the urgency of a task is often mixed up with the importance of a task. Humans just tend to want to take care of overdue tasks before it is too late to do so. They also accept that actual important tasks may be left undone because of that.

Two-dimensional task planning rectifies one of the main problems of linear task management schemes, that is, the lack of a reasonable means of prioritization. With two-dimensional task planning, tasks are not arranged in a row, but rather in a coordinate system, the same kind as is used in mathematics. Every task is assigned a priority and a date and time, and thus these two attributes can no longer accidentally be mixed up with each other. According to these two attributes, tasks are sorted into one of the quadrants of the coordinate system, where each of the quadrants has its own meaning for how these tasks are to be handled. The meaning of these quadrants will be elaborated upon in further detail later in this article.

What is Two-Dimensional Task Planning Needed For?
Improvement of One's Work-Life Balance
Two-dimensional task planning supports the development of a good work-life balance.

Well-Suited for Creative Types
It has become evident that two-dimensional task planning is particularly well-suited for people who generally do not get along well with task management systems. Especially creative people often have trouble adhering to linear task management schemes, whereas the use of a two-dimensional task management system does not present as much of a problem to them. Read this article to find out why.

Improvement of Effectiveness
Because of the clear arrangement of tasks in two-dimensional task management systems, you can enhance your effectiveness considerably.

How to Create a Two-Dimensional Task Schedule?
It is very easy to create an Eisenhower Matrix. All you need is a notepad, a pen, and a few post-it notes.

First, you draw two lines on a piece of paper; one lengthwise, and the other crosswise. The two lines split the sheet of paper in the middle, resulting in a coordinate system with four quadrants of equal size. Add a left-facing arrowhead to the horizontal line, and label it "Urgency". Draw an arrowhead that points upward on the vertical line, and label it "Importance".

Every new task is written on a post-it note, is assigned a priority and a date and time, and is posted into the coordinate system according to those values. Thus, tasks that are higher up are more important than ones further below. All tasks move from the right side over to the left side as time passes, due to their date and time value.

Meaning of the Quadrants

Eisenhower Matrix

Tasks that are posted in the upper right are important and still on schedule. These tasks should receive preferred treatment, before they move into the upper left quadrant and become overdue. All of the things in our life that are, most of the time, not perceived as urgent (i.e., are not assigned a date and time), even though they are actually important to us (e.g., spending time with family, etc.), are in this quadrant.

All tasks in the upper left quadrant are already overdue, and important. These tasks have to be dealt with. However, one should not concentrate solely on these tasks, but rather find a healthy balance in dealing with tasks in the upper right and in the upper left. The main goal for this quadrant should be to reduce the amount of tasks contained and to keep it as small as possible, without neglecting the right quadrant.

Due to their unimportance, only little effort should be invested into dealing with tasks in the lower left quadrant. Whenever possible, these tasks should be delegated, i.e., assigned to other people.

In the lower right, time wasters are exposed. Normally, everything that ends up here can, after a brief inspection, be removed again straight away.

Software-based Support for Your Task Management
If you are looking for a comfortable solution for organizing your tasks according to the two-dimensional task scheduling principle, you should definitely check out LifeQuadrants Eisehower Matrix. In addition to the normal set of features for two-dimensional task planning, LifeQuadrants supports many more that will help you reach your goals faster and improve your work-life balance at the same time.

Further Reading
Dr. Stephen Covey explains two-dimensional task planning in great detail in his book 'First Things First'.

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pearson shaba
11 Mar 06:12
8

hope to learn very many things in this wonderful page

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