Stop the to-do list anxiety once and for all
If you’re a solopreneur or own a small business, then you are probably familiar with the anxiety that follows you … pretty much every day.
The endless to-do lists, comparisonitis, the loneliness – these anxiety-inducing activities are something that pretty much every solopreneur experiences at least once in their lifetime.
It’s like waiting for the other shoe to drop, all the time. It’s like you are in a race against others and yourself. The endless overwhelm seems to become a normal thing. Add some house chores and babies on top of that and you’ve got a perfect recipe for anxiety attacks.
This is why I am passionate about being productive in business. It’s not about doing as much as possible in 24 hours. It’s about ONLY doing the things that bring you joy and STILL be profitable.
Today, I want to introduce you to the 34th president of the United States. Weird, huh?
What does it have to do with productivity and living in the floooow?
Everything. This man, Dwight Eisenhower, is one of the most well-known productivity and time management masters.
Somehow, during his lifetime, he managed to get to the top ranks of the US, NATO, and European military, serve two terms in the office as the president of the US, and STILL found time for hobbies such as golf and oil painting.
I am lucky if I force myself to get out of bed without checking Instagram first (okay, this never happens)…
No wonder why his methods are still applicable to this day.
So, I want to introduce you to the Eisenhower Matrix. Sometimes called ‘the Eisenhower Box’ and ‘the productivity matrix’.
You’ve probably seen this matrix before, but have you put it to use? Read on, print out the free sheet that comes along with this post and try it!
WHAT IS THE EISENHOWER MATRIX
This magical box of productivity is a system for you to make decisions about the tasks that you need to complete.
It consists of four parts:
- Urgent and important (tasks you will do immediately).
- Important, but not urgent (tasks you will schedule to do later).
- Urgent, but not important (tasks you will delegate to someone else).
- Neither urgent nor important (tasks that you will eliminate).
You can use these for larger projects and even your daily to-do lists.
Here’s what it looks like today:
HOW TO USE THE PRIORITY MATRIX
It’s pretty self-explanatory, but… I know that, for most of you, you’ll put ALL of your tasks in the first (do now) quadrant. Don’t try to fool me, sproutsicle!
Try to actually avoid putting tasks in the first square unless they are really, REALLY urgent.
Here’s what you need to do:
- put down all your ideas on physical or digital paper. Don’t keep all of your tasks in your head – they will start to overwhelm you.
Keep a handy list of to-do’s (you can use my productivity printable from the VAULT) and write down everything that comes to your mind related to what you need and want to do.
Even if you think that you should read a book – put it down on paper.
- at the end of the week, take out the productivity matrix and start putting the tasks into the quadrants.
Don’t do this in the morning just before you start the day. Ideally, you’d want to do this on Friday or Sunday, before your next workweek starts.
Why? Because this way, you’ll eliminate the unnecessary anxiety and the decision fatigue (I wrote about this in my post about my productive morning routine).
- again, try to avoid the first quadrant, if possible.
- once you’re done with putting every task into it’s specific quadrant, start scheduling your week/day with the tasks from the 2nd quadrant
- start informing people that you are delegating tasks from the 3rd quadrant to them.
- do the tasks from the first quadrant
- forget about the tasks from the 4th quadrant
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN URGENT AND IMPORTANT
What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important.
Okay, so, if you should avoid putting things into the first quadrant, what CAN I put in there?
How do you decide whether a task is urgent and needs to be done immediately or is just important and should be scheduled?
Well, the big difference between them is that the URGENT tasks should be something that you need to REACT to right NOW.
People often say that these should be emails and calls from clients, but I disagree. You should schedule time for answering emails and client calls. They’re not babies and they don’t need you holding their hand at all times.
For me, urgent tasks are the ones requiring your response ASAP, like making a decision regarding the colors of your website, because your web designer is waiting for your response, or paying bills.
The IMPORTANT tasks (2nd quadrant) are the ones that will benefit you long-term. Such as your daily business non-negotiables, content creation, house cleaning, bird feeding, and other important strong-independent-woman stuff.
DO I NEED TO DO THESE TASKS AT ALL?
The interesting thing about the Eisenhower matrix is that it pushes you to make the hard decisions about the tasks that you really need to do and the ones that are useless.
While it might seem tempting to carry your whole business on your shoulders and to be on all social media platforms, and to create new content every day… ask yourself:
does this task really serve me or my business?
does it help accomplish my goal?
If not, it goes straight to the DELETE quadrant. Be a merciless business owner.
You are the greatest asset of your business – make sure you take care of it.
DOWNLOAD THE PRODUCTIVITY MATRIX DIGITAL AND FOR-PRINT
I have created my own Eisenhower Box to make decisions with. It goes really well with my productivity playsheet, which is a to-do list with a daily morning and evening rituals.
You can find both of them in the VAULT, along with other free resources for solopreneurs. Sign up here to receive your free invitation and password:
Hi! I’m Cornelia.