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Using the Eisenhower Matrix to Optimise Your Work

School leaders are busy! There is too much to do and not enough time to do it in.
The Eisenhower Matrix, also referred to as Urgent-Important Matrix, helps you decide on and prioritise tasks by urgency and importance, sorting out less urgent and important tasks which you should either delegate or not do at all.

The name comes from Dwight D. Eisenhower who was the US President from 1953 to 1961.
Eisenhower had to make tough decisions continuously about which of the many tasks he should focus on each day. This led him to invent the world-famous Eisenhower principle.

Prioritizing tasks by urgency and importance results in 4 quadrants

  1. Do First
  2. Schedule
  3. Delegate
  4. Don’t do

Urgent tasks are allocated to quadrant 1 or 3, depending how important they are.
If it is urgent (needs to be done today or tomorrow) AND important (in your role) then it goes in quadrant 1 – Do First!

Tasks that are urgent because they need to be done today or tomorrow but aren’t a high priority of importance in YOUR role should be delegated to a person in a support role (quadrant 3)

The Do first quadrant are tasks are important and need to be done today or tomorrow at the latest.
The tasks that are important but not as urgent are in the second quadrant. These tasks should be scheduled in your diary. Leaders who use their time well anticipate and allocate time before the deadline arrives.

The third quadrant is for those tasks you could delegate as they are less important to you than other tasks but still pretty urgent. You should keep track of delegated tasks by e-mail or within a meeting to check back on their progress later. For example, booking buses for an excursion or retrieving the notice you included in last year’s newsletter about an annual event could be delegated to an admin officer.

The fourth and last quadrant is called Don’t Do because it is there to help you sort out things you should not being doing at all. Discovering and stopping bad habits, like surfing the internet without a reason result in you not being able to deal with important tasks in the 1st and 2nd quadrants.