The year has already kicked off and among the foremost things we all look forward too is to achieve the “millions” of resolutions that we have planned when the year started. Chances are high that you have already written down all these goals and plans for the year. From achieving financial freedom to getting more clients or your business, enrolling in school, losing weight, everyone makes enthusiastic resolutions every beginning of the year.
According to a Statistic Brain Research Institute, people who explicitly make resolutions are 10 times more likely to attain their goals than people who don’t explicitly make resolutions.
But then as the year progresses, many people get distracted along the way and lose sight of the vision at hand and by the time the year ends, they are yet to achieve even a single goal they wrote down. According to a study by the University of Scranton, only 8% of people who make resolutions actually go ahead and achieve them.
What really happens with the other 92%? Is it that they were too ambitious and unrealistic with their goals? Or could it have been that they never planned or prioritized their list of goals to be achieved? What goes wrong between February and December every year now that 80% of those make resolutions do not go past the second month?
The Eisenhower Matrix
We share with you the one tool that we recommend everyone who has a nudge to achieve their dreams this year to use. This is the Eisenhower Matrix also known as the Urgent-Important Matrix. This productivity tool was created by 34th President of the United States, Dwight D. Eisenhower.
The Eisenhower Matrix allows you to prioritize between what is important and what is urgent, arranged inside a quadrant. With this matrix, you are able to start implementing your New Year goals having already divided them into small, actionable and manageable daily, weekly and monthly tasks.
The matrix consists of a square divided into four boxes labelled as shown below:
Quadrant A: Important and Urgent
These are tasks that need immediate attention and should be prioritized higher than any other tasks on your to-do list. Failure to do these tasks can result in detrimental outcomes like loss of life, career or something valuable to you.
Quadrant B: Important and Not Urgent
These kinds of tasks do not require immediate attention but nonetheless very important. These tasks will work well when scheduled earlier as they contribute towards the implementation of the “Important and Urgent” tasks.
Quadrant C: Urgent and Not Important
Tasks in this quadrant require urgent attention but are not necessarily important in the long run or contribute towards your long-term goals.
The major tasks that fall on this quadrant are phone calls and text messages. Unless it’s an emergency, most phone calls are responsible for stealing time from other very important and urgent tasks.
Quadrant D: Not Urgent and Not Important
These are the kind of tasks that do not contribute anything to your goals. They are basically time wasters and total distractors. They serve nothing other than stealing the limited time you have for your goals. Watching TV and social media are among the many time wasters that qualify to be in this quadrant.
John is a 4th year engineering student at one of the local universities. His dream is to become a top civil engineer but he also has a desire to become an entrepreneur and so he started a side hustle business that involves selling second-hand clothes to other students. He goes to the market every weekend then he sells the clothes over the weekdays. He uses the surplus income partly for entertainment and savings towards growing his business because his tuition fees and pocket money are his parents’ responsibilities.
On one particular weekend, John realizes has loads of important assignments due on Monday. At the same time, he has to go to the market and purchase the new stock for the upcoming week. He gets a phone call from both his parents that he needs to go home that same weekend to meet a relative who just landed from abroad to talk more no how he will secure a scholarship to study overseas for his masters. There’s also an artist who is in town and will be having a concert that Saturday evening that John desires to attend with his friends.
What should John do? How does he prioritize what is important and what is urgent? Everything that John does on a daily basis will add up towards achieving his overall goal of graduating before the year ends thereafter achieving his dream of becoming an engineer.
Let us help John in scheduling his already packed weekend by order of urgency and importance using the Eisenhower Matrix. Remember that in the Eisenhower Matrix, everything action has its own reaction, i.e. if you forgo an activity there’s a consequence – the degree of the aftermath is what that matters.
The due assignments fall on the “Urgent and Important” quadrant of the matrix. John’s failure to complete the assignments that weekend may result in him not graduating that year hence stalling achieving his dream.
Going to the market, in this case, is treated as “Urgent and Not Important.” Urgent because he has orders that need to be fulfilled but not important because the loss is recoverable having already established a good relationship with his clients.
Meeting the relative from abroad in this particular weekend is treated as “Not Urgent but Important.” This is because John can always communicate with the relative on email or phone to understand what is needed to receive the scholarship, and this is in case he fails to meet the relative. But it is also is very important because John’s end result is to advance his studies if indeed he wants to become a top civil engineer.
The concert, in this case, falls on “Not Urgent and Not Important.” Entertainment is good and worthwhile but on this particular weekend is neither important nor urgent.
Once John has scheduled all the weekend tasks into the Eisenhower Matrix, he can simply and easily allocate time to the individual quadrants.
The Eisenhower Matrix can be used to schedule both daily and monthly tasks hence achieving maximum productivity and attaining your year’s resolutions.
According to Henry David Thoreau it is not enough to be busy, the question is: what are you busy about?
This article has been updated to reflect the new year as it is still relevant.