You’ve probably heard of a task management tool called the „Eisenhower matrix.” If not, here’s a reminder. President Dwight Eisenhower divided his responsibilities along two axes:
- Important and not important – the „importance” of the task is assessed on the one hand by the results (what I will lose if I do not do this or what I will gain if I do it), on the other by long-term goals and values;
- Urgent and non-urgent – this is all about time (what will happen if this task is done past deadline or what will I gain if I devote time to something else?).
The intersected axes form quarters:
- Not important and not urgent
- Not important and urgent
- Important and not urgent
- Important and urgent
Time management specialists speak of two approaches to this matrix. The first is to assign rigid actions to individual quarters:
- Important and urgent – Just do it;
- Important and non-urgent – Schedule;
- Urgent and not important – Delegate;
- Not important and non-urgent – Delete.
The second requires more thought, but it is better in the long run. It consists of assigning one of the following actions to each task individually:
- Do as soon as possible;
- Limit / automate;
- Postpone for later;
I want to persuade you to add another dimension to this matrix:
- Energy up;
- Energy down.
We usually associate „work” or „performing tasks” only with things that consume our energy. But when you realize that energy is a renewable resource and you need a „charged battery” to perform more tasks, you will soon discover that the tasks which boost your energy become essential and urgent. These are the tasks you want to do, you feel like doing them before other things. On the other hand — a walk becomes an essential task because your energy is low.
Planning your energy balance also means that after having completed a difficult task (like talking to a problematic customer), you can plan a stroll to the company kitchen or recreation room — and you don’t have to feel guilty about not doing any work. You do work — you replenish the energy needed for your next coin toss.
Do you remember what I said about the sine wave being replaced by chaos while working at home? Energy balance planning also solves this problem — well-planned energy boosts are far superior to just chaos.