President Dwight D. Eisenhower and his Legacy of Achievement
The 34th President of the United States, Dwight D. Eisenhower, is most well-known for his passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1957, his implementation of the Interstate Highway Program, and his steadfast determination in succeeding as Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Forces in World War II. His courage, charisma, and ability to re-stabilize an economy after one of the deadliest conflicts in human history are all factors that personify his leadership expertise.
However, while an impressive military commander and public serviceman, he did not overcome these obstacles purely through talent and “good decision making”. In fact, during his address to the Century Association in 1961, he stressed the difficulty he faced when making difficult decisions not only in war but on public policy and in his own life.
Inspired by his capacity to contend with decisions that were “important” or “urgent,” a tool was devised to help others prioritize critical decisions through what we now call “The Eisenhower Decision Matrix.”
What is the Eisenhower Decision Matrix?
In short, the Eisenhower Matrix is a task management tool that individuals and solar sales teams use to define which tasks need to be accomplished first based on the urgency or importance of said tasks. Using a simple 4-quadrant graph, one can concoct a “to-do” list and then place each task within the quadrant it belongs to based on its criticality at the current time.
To put it simply, any task that is both urgent and important is a top priority and should be taken on immediately. These tasks will be found in the top-left most quadrant. This then begs the question; how do we divvy up tasks that are not critically important or urgent?
The top-right quadrant is for tasks that while still important, are not urgent and thus less necessary to accomplish immediately. The bottom-left quadrant is for tasks that must be done in a timely fashion, but are not important. Lastly, the bottom-right quadrant is home to tasks that are not urgent or important.
This basic premise of “importance and/or urgency” matrix gives way to three important keywords when deciding how to handle tasks that are not highly important OR urgent, which are: automate, delegate, and eliminate.
Automate the Monotonous
We are lucky enough to exist in a time where technological progress has given us unimaginable abilities to automate tasks we would otherwise have to sink hours, days, or weeks into. While not entirely synonymous with an “important, but not urgent” task, this top-right corner of the Eisenhower Matrix is likely to be the area in which we will find tasks that we are able to automate to a great degree.
Monotonous and repetitive tasks are the most likely to fall into this category. When considering tasks that occur frequently at regular intervals (think daily check-ins, weekly mailing lists, monthly status reports with staff), we are much more easily able to find ways to automate these tasks while still maintaining the human element.
If you do daily check-ins with your sales team, an automated daily reminder to check-in with the team manager can be set up by any number of team organization programs available to us through the internet or even right on our phones.
Do you have a weekly mailing list with marketing materials for your potential client-base? Service companies have risen all over that allow one to set up a system that can automate the addressing and sending of said emails; all you need to do is provide the content.
These are all examples of tasks that we can set up regular, consistent procedures for following and accomplishing. Using the Eisenhower Matrix, one can easily identify a number of tasks that they manually do each day/week/month which can be automated in order to put more time and focus into things that are more critical and time-sensitive.
Delegate to Others
The bottom-left quadrant contains tasks that need to get done in a timely fashion, but are ultimately not as important as other tasks on your list. Here is where we find tasks that we can likely delegate to others that are more appropriate for them to tackle in order for you to put your focus on more pressing tasks.
Delegating tasks that are not nearly as important to your productivity can help clear up an otherwise packed schedule with menial tasks to help you invest your time more wisely. Things such as replying to specific emails, or organizing team meetings, are things that could very much be designated to a specific person to handle while you focus on providing the content/value implied by those tasks.
In the meeting scenario, having the meeting prep ready ahead of time instead of scheduling it and doing the prep is a good way to envision delegating responsibilities away. Similarly, for replying to certain emails, having another employee handle emails from a certain client or business or from certain sources can afford you ample time throughout the day to accomplish other, more pressing feats.
Eliminate the Unnecessary
The last quadrant that does not involve handling something important immediately Is the bottom-right quadrant of things that are not important or urgent. While it may seem obvious from the perspective of the matrix, this begs the questions, “how many of these things are absolutely necessary?” and “are these really tasks, or ways that I’m distracting myself from the present?”
A critical question to ask oneself and can be applied to an organization at large. This quadrant lists things which could potentially be eliminated as their impact and importance are far below any other tasks on the matrix.
When we think of working and our productivity, it seems like anything that needs to be done MUST be done and that all tasks are important in some regard (otherwise we would not have to do them…right?).
Well, not necessarily.
Below, you’ll see soon that most of the things we would list in this quadrant aren’t really tasks at all, more than they are ways in which we occupy our time with non-work related matters for any number of reasons.
These are things known as “productivity killers” and are often simply distractions that take our focus away from the things that have become urgent or important over time. Things such as mindlessly browsing the web during downtime, excessive use of technology not related to your work, or putting things off until they are absolutely due. All of these are small things that we tend to do while not realizing how much time they take away from our work day and often get us lost in procrastination and create urgency where none is necessary.
You may find yourself or other employees falling victim to serious procrastination even if business is not necessarily slow. While it is certainly important to stimulate your brain in different ways and find other means of breaking up the monotony of the day, too often these distractions become full derailments of productivity and can begin to kill off motivation to maintain a good working cadence.
Using the Eisenhower Decision Matrix to Better Your Solar Business (and Your Life)
While not strictly a business tool, the Eisenhower Decision Matrix serves as an incredibly valuable visual representation of items or tasks in our lives and how we can prioritize them. By applying the principles of prioritization to our work or even our own lives, we can more easily put chaotic things into order and take more control of our time. Not only do we have a better understanding of which things to handle and when, but also aids us in deciding which tasks we may be able to automate, delegate to others, or eliminate entirely, thus freeing up much more time than we may have otherwise thought.