Working within the education sector invariably throws together so many tasks that producing a simple to-do list is sometimes just not enough. When faced with a complex to-do list, the usual temptation can be to procrastinate, leaving the important and urgent items on the list festering away until last-minute panic sets in.
Widely recognised as one of the most productive USA presidents, the 34th incumbent, Dwight D. Eisenhower’s productivity has been extensively researched, and by far one of the most useful strategies he is credited for devising is now known as the Eisenhower Box. It’s a simple method to help you avoid procrastination and prioritise what you should be working on. Here’s how it works:
You create 4 different boxes with the following categories:
- Urgent and important (tasks to do immediately).
- Important, but not urgent (tasks to schedule later).
- Urgent, but not important (tasks to delegate to someone else).
- Neither urgent nor important (tasks to eliminate).
This simple exercise teaches you to quickly identify the importance and urgency of tasks on your to-do list, separating them accordingly. Crafting the tasks into these categories can help focus on what is actually important (or not) on your list, and the urgency of getting the tasks completed.
You could use something like this app (Mac or iOS) to truly have a virtual Eisenhower Box or download a printed copy to fill out with pen or pencil. This productivity method could also be useful for students when preparing for assessments, or end of year exams in prioritising their revision (and life) lists.
It’s certainly not rocket science, but using such a matrix can certainly help focus the mind on the tasks which need more attention than others, and also help eliminate your to-do tasks in a more comprehensible way. As a teacher, whether you need to plan, assess, mark or prepare for lessons, slotting your to-do list into an Eisenhower Box can certainly help improve productivity and efficiency.
Article inspired and adapted from the original article by Cody McLain on Medium