Is The Eisenhower Matrix The Best Time Management System?

“What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important.”

Dwight D. Eisenhower34th president of the United States (1953–61)

What Is The Eisenhower Matrix?

The Eisenhower Matrix helps prioritize tasks by urgency and importance and allows for some tasks to be delegated or eliminated (aka deleted) entirely. Another way of looking at the Eisenhower Matrix as a time management tool is to describe it as the Urgent-Important Matrix.

Who Was Dwight Eisenhower And Was He Important? (short answer: yes).

Dwight D. Eisenhower was the 34th President of the United States from 1953 until 1961. Before becoming President he was the Allied Forces Supreme Commander during World War II. He also later became NATO’s first supreme commander. We can agree the guy was busy, had a lot of responsibilities and not only was he important, he had to make a lot of urgent and important decisions during his career.

How Does The Eisenhower Matrix Work?

The Eisenhower Matrix operates on the principle that all tasks can be folded into one of four categories.

The Eisenhower Matrix

The first quadrant is labeled ‘Do First’ as important and urgent tasks should be addressed as soon as possible.

The second quadrant is labeled ‘Schedule’. Its tasks are important, but less urgent, so you can schedule these in your calendar to do later.

The third quadrant is urgent, but less important, so they need to be done urgently, but as it’s probably best for you to focus on urgent and important items, ‘Delegate’ these less important tasks to someone else. These can be taken care of with email asking or suggesting someone else may be a better fit for that task.

The fourth and last quadrant is called ‘Don’t Do’ because, well, it’s not important and not urgent.

Is The Eisenhower Matrix The Best Time Management Tool?

According to research conducted by UK-based Development Academy in 2021, the Eisenhower Matrix was the most successful time management technique. The organization surveyed 500 people across a wide variety of industries and learned:

  • Fewer than 1 in 5 people (18%) have a proper time management system.
  • 58% of people don’t have a time management system, but they do use a to-do list, their email inbox or calendar.
  • 24% have no system, they just do what seems important.
  • Of the time management techniques people do use, the Eisenhower matrix is the most successful.
  • 100% of people using the Eisenhower matrix feel their work is under control either 4 or 5 days per week.
  • The least successful time management technique is ‘dealing with whatever comes up’.
  • 28% of people dealing with whatever comes up feel their work is never or very rarely (1 day per week) under control.
  • 1 in 8 people (12.5%) never feel under control at work.
  • Only 20% ( 1 in 5) people carry out a monthly time audit to review how they are spending their time.

The Development Academy research also found that the Eisenhower Strategy is the most successful time management strategy with 50% of people who use this technique feel their “work is under control every day and 50% of people who use the Eisenhower Matrix feel their work is under control four out of five days in a week.

How Many People Use the Eisenhower Matrix?

Although only 2% say they use the Eisenhower matrix, many of us use elements of it via our email and calendar system.

  • 33% of people use a to-do list, (Eisenhower Quadrant 1 & 2 items)
  • 24% of people use their inbox, (Eisenhower Quadrant 1 & 2 items)
  • 24% of people do whatever seems most important, (Eisenhower Quadrant 1 & 2 items)
  • 12% use the calendar, (Eisenhower Quadrant 2 items)

Although each of these methods relates to the “important” items in the Eisenhower matrix, none deal with the “not important” quadrants 3 & 4, which is where wasted time can occur.

How Much Time Is Wasted On Tasks That Aren’t Important?

  • 38% of people say they waste up to an hour a day
  • 35% say they waste between one and two hours a day
  • 15% say they waste between two and three hours a day
  • On average, people waste 1½ hours each day on tasks and meetings that are not important to their role

The second row of the Eisenhower matrix focuses on the “less important” items, which should be delegated or deleted. If tasks are classified with the full 4 quadrant matrix, the result should be less wasted time.

Is Time Management Worth The Effort?

So what are the tangible benefits of making the effort to manage your time better? We researched numerous papers, and found that the top three reported benefits of effective time management are:

  1. Reduced stress. Being in control reduces anxiety at work and helps people feel more confident.  By planning their work people feel less overwhelmed by what they need to do.
  2. Increased productivity. What people like to work on and what is important are rarely the same. Time management helps people keep on task and working to a priority. Just by planning work you are better placed to finish more important tasks more quickly, increasing your productivity.
  3. Increased Positive Reputation. People that are seen to be in control of their work, less stressed and more productive gain a more positive reputation. This could lead to career advancement, increased earnings, promotion, and an increase in workplace satisfaction.

There are more benefits to time management, but any one of these benefits would more than justify the effort in making time management a part of your working life.

What Is The Difference Between Time Management And Time Tracking?

Time management and time tracking are completely different things.

Time management is the process of prioritizing and planning future activities. Time management helps improve personal performance and efficiency at work. Time tracking is the process of logging actual time spent for reporting, billing, or payroll purposes.

If you need to track time then time management can help streamline time tracking and make it more accurate.

Are Time Management and Time Tracking Related?

Time tracking is retrospective. Time management is for future tasks. Other than learning from past performance, time tracking is not related to time management but there is a link the other way around.

We’ve seen earlier that 69% of people perform some level time management functions within their calendar or email system. If that system is Outlook or Google then Timewatch timesheets can use this information.

Not everyone that uses time management needs to track timesheets but those that do can leverage data from an Outlook or Google calendar to save time and increase the accuracy of a timesheet.

How Time Management Can Streamline Time Tracking

A surprising number of people use some form of time management within their Outlook or Google calendars. With Timewatch, this information can be used in timesheets. This saves users time and increases the accuracy of their timesheets.

Google Calendar Timesheet - Automatic timesheet entry / automatic time tracking Google Timesheet - prefill your timesheet with Google calendar appointments

“Quadrant 2” tasks scheduled in Google seamlessly included in a Timewatch timesheet. (Also works with Outlook)

Click on the slider and drag to see how scheduled Google (or Outlook) items appear in the timesheet

Not everyone that uses time management needs to track timesheets but, if you do need to track time, you will find that time management processes you currently use in Outlook or Google can be used to save time in timesheet entry.

When people use their company Outlook or Google accounts for time management, this information can autofill their timesheet. This saves valuable time in time tracking and increases the accuracy of time tracking.

Want to Learn More?

Want to learn more? Contact us or complete the form to arrange a call with a Timewatch specialist.

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