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Kathy Marshack News

Use the Eisenhower Decision Matrix to Simplify Your Life and Get More Done

Monday, September 17, 2018


To get more done, realize your brain is working against you because of the “mere urgency effect”. We choose urgency over importance. The Eisenhower Decision Matrix is an excellent way to organize all your tasks. The other day, I Googled the phrase, “how to get more done.” It turns out this is a very popular query, and there is A LOT of articles written about it. In fact, Google gave me 2,070,000,000 choices. Then I Googled, “websites about productivity” and received 101,000,000 results.

Productivity, decision making, and procrastination are topics that the U.S. population can’t get enough of. They read about them over and over again…and still don’t get enough done. What’s the source of this dilemma?

Why do we have the desire to get more done, but we don’t get it done?

Obviously, reading the articles isn’t enough. If you want to get long-term projects done, you’ve got to do the work! However, your brain is working against you, and it’s because of a phenomenon called the mere urgency effect. According to a recent study, our brains choose perceived urgency over importance. Here is what the researchers said:

“In everyday life, people are often faced with choices between tasks of varying levels of urgency and importance. How do people choose? Normatively speaking, people may choose to perform urgent tasks with short completion windows, instead of important tasks with larger outcomes, because important tasks are more difficult and further away from goal completion, urgent tasks involve more immediate and certain payoffs, or people want to finish the urgent tasks first and then work on important tasks later. The current research identifies a mere urgency effect, a tendency to pursue urgency over importance even when these normative reasons are controlled for.

Specifically, results from five experiments demonstrate that people are more likely to perform unimportant tasks (i.e., tasks with objectively lower payoffs) over important tasks (i.e., tasks with objectively better payoffs), when the unimportant tasks are characterized merely by an illusion of expiration.”

The bottom line is that people seem to need deadlines to perform their best. How can you use this information to your advantage?

President, Dwight D. Eisenhower said, “What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important.” He developed The Eisenhower Decision Matrix, which is an excellent way to organize any task you need to perform. Here’s how it works:

First, list all of your tasks according to these four factors:

Priority 1. Important / Urgent – Do these today!

Priority 2. Important / Not Urgent – Schedule these to do as soon as possible.

Priority 3. Not Important / Urgent – Delegate to someone else.

Priority 4. Not Important / Not Urgent – Do these if you have spare time or not at all.

Once you have your priorities set, put a deadline to each task using specific hours and dates. If you have an unrealistic deadline for things that are not important, reschedule them or delegate them.

Now that you’ve mapped out your tasks, chunk them up into tiny goals that make them more manageable.

If a deeper issue than being disorganized is keeping you from creating the life you desire and you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my Jantzen Beach office and schedule an appointment. I also offer online therapy if that works best for your busy schedule.



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