This classic Eisenhower diagram helps to sort important and urgent tasks from the less important less urgent ones.
The grid is a simple concept that General Eisenhower put forward in the second world war. But it still holds true today. The thing to determine is what I should be doing next (this is the basis of David Allen’s GTD).
The answer that Eisenhower provided was that the next thing to do is that which is most important and most urgent. This does not mean that you should be waiting until everything is urgent, on the contrary proactiveness means doing things as soon as possible.
But what it does mean, is that you need to determine what is important and what is urgent.
Urgent and important
First of all these two things should not be confused, importance is not the same thing as urgency. something could be urgent (post a letter in time for collection) but not important (it’s just a return to sender). But filling in your tax return on the last day before the deadline is probably important (should be) and most certainly urgent because the deadline is close.
It may be extremely important for you to make money or achieve your business objectives, but not urgent. You will achieve your objective over the course of your one to three-year plan.
However it is probably most urgent and important to invoice the €2000 on the last day of the month.
So long as the concept of urgent and important are clear, I’ve noticed that a kanban, and notably a Trello Kanban, can be a very useful and easy tool to implement this system.
The principle here is to use the horizontal (X) access for urgent and not urgent and the vertical (Y) access to represent importance. But the other thing I noticed is that we (I) tend to do things at the top of the list first; or rather I place important things at the top of the list.
I have integrated Trello into my everyday work. So it’s now a natural reflex to move the urgent column to the left. The important stuff is at the top, and so the important, urgent tasks (the first ones to do = next action) are those at the top left. And those are the ones that I am most likely to see.
If I have many columns off to the right (although I try to limit to 4 or 5 columns. We tend to read left-to-right, so I will read what is at the top left first.
This helps with the review process. When you are looking for things to do, you can just simply look at the top left of the screen. If you made the investment in organising your stuff, you will quickly find what you need to do next.
Everything is relative of course. The things that you classify as important and urgent may not be to anyone else. It’s what you consider to be important and urgent.
Trello, therefore, helps you implement GTD and Eisenhower. It gives you a quick and easy way to sort your important urgent tasks from the non-important non-urgent tasks. These tasks will get done later unless you move the tiles on the Kanban grid.