Improving Time Management with The Eisenhower Quadrant

A guest post by Joanna Harrison, WEofC Director of Community

When you’re a small business owner, "time management" is no longer a fluffy phrase, thrown around on motivational Instagram quotes - your time now impacts profit. Wasting your time getting muddy in the trenches could mean missing out on a new lead, landing a new account, or making a sale. 

The Eisenhower Quadrant is a simple way to visualize and categorize your daily tasks, and then figure out which of those tasks you need to...

1. Do     2. Plan     3. Delegate     4. Eliminate

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The four quadrants are:

1. Urgent & Important

These are the main and most critical tasks of your day-to-day business. Important meetings with clients, making sure the schedule gets made and payroll goes out. These tasks will remain on your To-Do list, and generally need to be completed by you and you alone. Because the tasks in this quadrant are urgent and important, they get a "Do" action step. 

2. Not Urgent & Important

The tasks in this quadrant are still important and meaningful to you and your business, however they do not have the same urgency as the first quadrant, so they are generally put off. Perhaps it's improving your personal self (exercise, taking a vacation, etc.) or broader goals and long-term desires you have for your business (creating a newsletter, throwing a holiday party for clients, getting new business cards). The action steps for these tasks is "Plan." Take a few minutes to look at your calendar, realistically scope out your time, and make a plan for when you'd like to work on and complete these tasks. 

3. Urgent & Not Important

This category may be a little trickier to define. As business owners, we often want to take on every task ourselves, and as a new business owner it may be harder to define what is important or not. Common tasks in this category are answering phones, responding to unimportant emails, or preliminary emails that could be pre-screened through a survey or assistant. Many of these tasks can be "Delegated," to an employee, an intern, or technology. 

4. Not Urgent & Not Important

These are the productivity killers. This could be distractions like web-surfing, chatting/venting, scrolling through junk email that could be unsubscribed, busywork, etc. Another time-waster is self-indulgent perfectionism and overanalyzing small details. During your defined work day, it is important to "Eliminate" these tasks completely. Whether this means blocking social media sites from your work computer, avoiding checking your personal email, or limiting your employee socialization.