The Eisenhower Box
Posted August 26th 2020
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As a busy freelancer, you’re sure to get bombarded with urgent emails, texts and phone calls.
Throw in Basecamp, Jira or any other project management platform and you’re probably wishing technology never existed. Growing your freelancing business is never an easy task. You’re part sales, marketing and project management all in one. And this is on top of the work that you already have to do.
Meet The Eisenhower Box
The technique that you are about to learn is rooted in a famous quote that President Eisenhower once said.
“I have two kinds of problems, the urgent and the important. The urgent are not important, and the important are never urgent.”
It is purported that Eisenhower organized his to-do list using a matrix of quadrants based on actions to take depending on the level of urgency and importance. Those of you familiar with other time management techniques might be reminded of David Allen’s Get Things Done where you are encouraged to get pending tasks out of your head and on paper so that you can sort through them later.
In the Eisenhower method, you have four basic options for any tasks thrown your way:
Your most urgent and important tasks require action now. Do it!
You need to figure out the best time to do it. It’s important but not urgent. Add it to your calendar or task list and track the date so that when the time comes, it goes into the Do quadrant.
This is for tasks that aren’t too important, but are urgent. As a freelancer, you might have people you know who can take care of this for you freeing you up to do more important things
Neither important nor urgent. Why even bother? This might actually be one of the hardest quadrants to figure out. If you don’t know what’s not important or not urgent, you’ll need to reevaluate your goals and objectives. From there, you can determine what goes here.
Using This System
Alright. It sounds very simple and easy to use, but how can you use this to manage your crazy task list? The first step you should take is to write down everything that you need to do now. Get everything listed. Any task that is too big needs to be broken up into subtasks that you can be run through the system.
There are many options of how you can represent your tasks. You can use a wall and post it notes. You can use software such as Trello. You can even use a notepad or notebook. Whichever you use, it’s important to keep this up-to-date.
The next most important thing is discipline. Once you start this, you have to keep at it. The system doesn’t work if you use it one day and then skip a few and come back later. You need to use this system as your dashboard for activities. If you have too many complexities, break it up. Break it up by project, by category, by stakeholder. You can adapt this system to your needs.
Remember, this is just one of many techniques that you have available to you. This might not be the best fit for everyone, but if you find yourself up to your neck in things to do without guidance it’s worth a shot.
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