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Work Smarter, Not Harder: Be More Strategic With Your Time

In our work with leaders, we often hear things such as, “I am so busy – there is simply not enough time in a day,” and, “I was busy all day and I still didn’t get to the important items on my list,” and, “We are no closer to achieving our goals today than we were six months ago.” These leaders are often looking for a way to manage their time so that it better represents their priorities. One framework for time management I often suggest to leaders looking to be more effective in the execution of their priorities is the Eisenhower Matrix (See Figure 1).The Matrix is divided into four quadrants:

  1. Urgent and Important: These are the things that you need to do now. They are both important and time sensitive.
  2. Less Urgent and Important: These are things that you need to schedule into your calendar and make a priority. They are critically important and are often not time sensitive.  The activities in this quadrant are the strategic initiatives that move leaders and organizations from the status quo to a new desired state. This work creates change.  Scheduling time to do this work and setting deadlines for important milestones can help to create a sense of urgency, helping to make this work a very high priority.
  3. Urgent and Less Important: These are the items that you can delegate to someone else. They are time sensitive, though they are not aligned with your priorities and objectives. Doing this work will prevent you from achieving your goals.
  4. Less Urgent and Less Important: These are the items you should not be doing. These activities often fall under the umbrella of “procrastination.”

The Eisenhower Matrix is a great tool to create awareness about how we are spending our time. A few questions to ask yourself as you look at your own priorities are:

  • “What are my priorities?”
  • “Does my current calendar reflect my priorities?”
  • “In which quadrant am I spending the most time?”
  • “How much time do I need to dedicate to Quadrant 2 in order to achieve my goals?”
  • “What prevents me from spending more time in Quadrant 2?”
  • “How can I spend less time in Quadrant 3?”
  • “To whom can I delegate?”

This year, the Nebo Company is internally implementing a process for effective execution of strategic initiatives from The 4 Disciplines of Execution by Chris McChesney, Sean Covey and Jim Huling. We are hoping to lift our heads from the daily urgencies of the business and spend more time focusing in Quadrant 2 of the Matrix above.  Stay tuned in 2018 to follow our journey, including tips, breakthroughs and challenges, as we work to ensure that our time and energy reflects the priorities we have set for the business.

We’d like to help you work smarter, not harder. Contact us if you and your team would like to be more strategic about how you are spending your time.


(Photo: “dictionary focus crop” by Chris Dlugosz is licensed under CC by 2.0)

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