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Prioritize Tasks with the Eisenhower Matrix and Owaves

Owaves Team Day Planner, Time Blocking, Time Hacks, Time Management

Written by Amanda Orozco, Owaves Intern

Have you ever heard of the Eisenhower Matrix? Read on for how this tool, along with the Owaves app, can help you identify your most important tasks, plan them into your day, and accomplish them! 

“I have two kinds of problems, the urgent and the important. The urgent are not important, and the important are never urgent.”

~President Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1954 

We can all likely relate to these words by President Eisenhower!

In today’s world, managing our time and prioritizing tasks can be difficult to do. Most of us have busy schedules with long to-do lists that can feel impossible to accomplish. It can feel that there isn’t enough time in the day to get everything done which can lead to a decrease in productivity. Planning your day by scheduling time for each task can make a huge difference in productivity and organization. This is why Owaves was created! The Owaves app makes planning your day simple and effective!

Scheduling time for each task is a great way to stay productive, but how do you know which task to schedule first? Deciding which tasks to prioritize is a common problem for many of us, including adults with ADHD, since we want to get all of our tasks done. Typically, we prioritize urgent tasks since those seem to be the most important, but that is not always true. Following this mentality can actually decrease productivity, since it seems like almost everything is urgent. This is where the Eisenhower Matrix comes in! 

What the Eisenhower Matrix is All About

In 1989, inspired by Eisenhower’s distinction between urgent tasks and important tasks, Stephen Covey transformed Eisenhower’s perceptions into a useful time management tool. (He did this in his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.) The Eisenhower Matrix helps categorize different tasks based on their importance and urgency, in order to promote productivity. Urgent tasks need immediate action and can have immediate results and consequences. Important tasks contribute to achieving goals and often don’t have immediate results and consequences. This Matrix explains that not all urgent tasks are important and not all important tasks are urgent, contrary to popular belief. 

The Eisenhower Matrix’s Four Categories of Tasks

In the Eisenhower Matrix, there are four different categories tasks fall into: Important and Urgent, Important but Not Urgent, Urgent but Not Important, and Not Urgent and Not Important. 

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Important and Urgent: These tasks include work projects with deadlines, last-minute requests, and emergencies. This category is where most of us spend the majority of our time.

Important but Not Urgent: These tasks are often related to self-care or relaxation, playtime, flow (a.k.a. free time), exercise, and personal goals. Although these tasks are not urgent, accomplishing them can be beneficial for our health and mindset.    

Urgent but Not Important: These tasks include busy work such as responding to emails and phone calls. You can often delegate these tasks to someone else, so you aren’t spending the majority of your time on tasks that aren’t important!

Not Urgent and Not Important: These are random tasks that often decrease productivity, such as excessive social media and TV use. It’s important to have down time that isn’t focused only on accomplishing tasks, but try not to spend the majority of your time on these activities. 

Tips for Prioritizing Tasks with the Eisenhower Matrix and Owaves

Now that you know more about the Eisenhower Matrix, you may be wondering: How do I prioritize my tasks using the Matrix and Owaves? Here are a few tips!

1. Identify Where the Task Falls on the Eisenhower Matrix

Complete Important and Urgent tasks first, since they require immediate action and can help you achieve goals for the greater good, such as work-related goals! At the same time, we often place Important but Not Urgent tasks (such as exercise, self-care, and playtime) on the back burner, but place them higher on your to-do list, since they contribute to greater well-being. If a task falls in the Important but Not Urgent category, find a way to make the task urgent. If it isn’t urgent, we are less likely to schedule time in our day to accomplish that task. By making such tasks urgent, we can get them done and achieve our personal goals.  

2. Split Large Projects into Smaller Components

Large projects can often be daunting and might even lead to prolonged procrastination. Split large projects into multiple smaller components to make it easier to accomplish those tasks and reduce stress! After working on the small components of a project, you’ll find that the once large and scary project is almost complete, and it was a lot more manageable than expected.

3. Schedule Time in Your Day to Complete Tasks (Especially Important Ones!)

Schedule time in your day plan or “O” (in the Owaves app) to complete certain tasks in order to make crossing items off your to-do list easier, especially those Important but Not Urgent tasks that we often leave by the wayside. It’s easy to forget about the tasks you wanted to accomplish if you aren’t given a reminder. In the Owaves app, you can plan your day ahead of time and dedicate a certain amount of time for each task you need to complete! Our app can even remind you what is up next on your day plan a few minutes before this next task is scheduled to start! Visit this tutorial for help planning your ideal day with Owaves.  

The Eisenhower Matrix and Owaves: Helpful Tools at Your Disposal! 

The three steps above are a great way to start organizing and prioritizing your tasks. Using the Eisenhower Matrix to categorize your tasks can make it easier to identify which ones to prioritize. Splitting large projects into smaller components can make completing these projects more manageable. Planning your tasks ahead of time in the Owaves app can help you focus on important tasks, maintain productivity, and feel accomplished after crossing tasks off your to-do list. The Eisenhower Matrix can be an effective method for helping you see what tasks really matter in your life. Correspondingly, Owaves is a helpful tool for implementing those tasks into your daily schedule!             

References

Cummins, M. (2014, June 25). ADHD and using the urgent – important matrix. Marla Cummins. Retrieved February 11, 2021, from  https://marlacummins.com/adhd-and-using-the-urgent-important-matrix/

Curb, W. (2019, December 2). How to make time for the important stuff. Hacking Your ADHD. Retrieved February 12, 2021, from https://www.hackingyouradhd.com/podcast/how-to-make-time-for-the-important-stuff

How to ADHD. (2016, August 3). How to prioritize when you have ADHD: The matrix [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jxiCV0vwVT8&feature=emb_title 

Scroggs, L. (n.d.). The Eisenhower Matrix. Todoist. https://todoist.com/productivity-methods/eisenhower-matrix    

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