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How to Plan Your Day in 4 Simple Steps - The Eisenhower Matrix

Some say that over 40% of things that people put on their to-do lists are never completed. That is a graveyard of things left undone. Things that are probably Important, but not Urgent. The solution? The Eisenhower Matrix. ☝️

#Planning



Have you heard of the Eisenhower Matrix? This matrix consists of 4 quadrants where you enter all your tasks, in relation to how important and/or urgent they are.

Here’s a quick little video our friend Anna Janises made for us to explain it.


Pretty brilliant, isn’t it? This matrix is all about prioritizing among the things you need to do in a week or a day, helping you see the things that really matter. I invite you to approach this blog post as an exercise; so before we start, grab a pen, a blank piece of paper, and your Personal Planner™.

It’s a good idea to start planning your day the night before, or, if you prefer planning one whole week at a time, sit down Sunday night with your planner to have everything set for the week ahead.

Now, let’s begin by breaking this matrix down, quadrant by quadrant.

Quadrant 1: Important and urgent things.
Quadrant 2: Important but less urgent things.
Quadrant 3: Urgent but less important things.
Quadrant 4: Less urgent and less important things.

Start by making a list of all the tasks and activities that come into your head, big and small. Then, on your blank piece of paper, draw the Eisenhower Matrix for reference. Now try to identify in which of the quadrants every task belongs.

STEP 1

Let’s begin by reviewing the stuff in quadrant 4. You could question whether these things should be taking up space in your weekly calendar at all. I mean, sure, it’s great to have a clean home, but that shouldn’t be taking up the same valuable space as the things you’ve placed in quadrant 1. IT’S ALL ABOUT PRIORITIES.

Of all the stuff we can throw on our to-do list, the point of this matrix is for us to see very clearly what actually needs our full attention, and stop sweating the stuff that doesn’t matter all that much. Don’t let the things you’ve just identified as “less urgent and less important” stress you out and take focus from what really needs to be done.


STEP 2

Right then; on to quadrant 3. What’s in this quadrant for you? We’re having a birthday party for my son this weekend so getting all the bits and bobs for that, as well as baking the chocolate cake he’s ordered is quite urgent. However, I have to place it in the right context: Job-related tasks are more important than shopping for a party. Job tasks usually have a deadline, whereas the things in quadrant 3 are often things we can delegate to someone else. I could ask my husband to get the party stuff, together with the birthday boy, while I’m baking the cake for instance. Delegation is key. You don’t have to do everything all the time!

Let me just repeat that the things in quadrants 3 and 4 are not unimportant. Rather, it’s how important they are in relation to all the other things you need to do. Like I said, cleaning the house can only be ignored for so long before you go crazy. (If you’re anything like me though, you’ve probably redefined your understanding of “a clean house” with every new addition to the family!) So where do we put the stuff from the bottom quadrants? A great idea is to compile these things in a list you place in the back pages of your planner. Because remember - if it’s in your calendar, it’s a priority! You can still “park” these things in another part of your planner. Just don’t let them clutter your weekly view, because that’s your time real estate. That’s where the good stuff goes.

Not familiar with the back pages? They’re the extra pages in your planner, found right after the calendar section. You can pick and choose what you want here: dot grid pages for bullet journaling, maps, sudoku puzzles, coloring pages, ruled or plain blank pages, and lots more! Look for them in step 6 of the designing process.


STEP 3

Next, quadrant 2. Here’s all those things that are important but not urgent. Perhaps the deadline for this, if you have one, is a week or two away. Still, these things have to be done properly, so they’ll need your full attention but perhaps not right now. Schedule all these things so you know you’ve allocated time in your calendar to complete them. That will save you from rushing last minute, when these things have suddenly shifted from quadrant 2 to quadrant 1.

Let me go off on a tangent for a minute. If you identify as a hustler of some sort - perhaps a work-from-home mom, or a student with a side-business, or an aspiring entrepreneur who still needs to hang on to their day job - then quadrant 2 is super important for you. The small steps that will build your dream should be written here. The problem is often that although these things may be important to you, they’re usually not urgent, meaning you can procrastinate or push them down your to-do list and you never get to doing them. But if you place them in quadrant 2 from the start, you’ll begin to take them seriously and to take concrete steps toward reaching that dream of yours. The secret is in scheduling time for these things. PUT IT IN YOUR CALENDAR.


STEP 4

Now, to the most important and most urgent stuff - quadrant 1. By now, you know what to do, right? Everything in quadrant 1 should go straight into your calendar. These things are your non-negotiables, the things you do first, no matter what. Perhaps you need more than one day to fit them all into your daily routine - so block some time in your calendar to make sure you finish them. The cool thing is that you can now focus fully on these tasks, resting assured that you’ve prioritized everything into its proper place.

And that, my friend, is the peace of mind that the Eisenhower Matrix will grant you.

With this matrix in your planning toolbox, I hope you’ll be able to visualize what you really need to do during the day, so you can make a realistic plan for what you can achieve.

Good luck! 😊
Sara at Personal Planner™

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