Become More Productive by Using the “Eisenhower Box” on Your Whiteboard Wall.
Former US President Dwight D. Eisenhower experienced one of the most productive and eventful lifetimes you could ever imagine. From 1953 to 1961, he served as 34th president of the United States. And during his two terms in office, he started programs that led to the creation of the US Interstate Highway System (the Federal-Aid Highway Act), the beginning of the internet (the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), the exploration of space (the National Aeronautics and Space Administration), and the peaceful application of alternative energy sources (the Atomic Energy Act). Imagine what would have been accomplished if he had a whiteboard wall.
Before being elected president, Dwight Eisenhower served with such distinction as to become a five-star general in the US Army, was Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe during World War II, and was in charge of planning and carrying out the successful invasions of North Africa, France, and Germany during the War.
After his terms in office, he also served as President of Columbia University and as the first Supreme Commander of NATO while somehow finding time for leisurely pursuits such as playing golf and oil painting. Throughout his long and storied career, Dwight D. Eisenhower showed a remarkable capacity to maintain a high level of productivity and focus, not just for days, weeks, or months, but for many decades. And for this reason, it’s not surprising that his innovative techniques for time management, task management, and productivity enhancement have been researched by psychologists and business leaders for decades.
A Simple Decision-making Tool was the Key to Eisenhower’s Amazing Success.
Eisenhower’s most well-known productivity-boosting technique, known as the Eisenhower Box, Eisenhower Decision Matrix, or Urgent-Important Matrix, is a straightforward decision-making device that anyone can use at home, at school, or on the job. President Dwight Eisenhower developed the concept behind the Eisenhower Box and used it to help himself prioritize and contend with the many critical issues he had to face daily as a US Army general, as Supreme Allied Commander of NATO Forces, and as President of the United States. Due to its popularization in the best-selling success-motivation book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, the Eisenhower Box has become widely used in the business world as a time-management and decision-making tool.
The Nature of the Eisenhower Box in a Nutshell
Let’s examine how President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s powerful productivity-boosting strategy works and how employing it in conjunction with a top-quality whiteboard painted wall can make you more well-organized and proficient in any environment, from the home school to the classroom, to the home office, to the traditional workplace.
Using Eisenhower’s time-honored technique for taking action and organizing your daily or long-term tasks is a simple, straightforward process. The approach involves drawing a square divided into four equal-sized boxes that include an X-axis marked Urgent and Not Urgent, and a Y-axis marked Important and Not Important. Using this clear-cut decision-making template, you can divide up your activities based on the following four options:
1. First quadrant (upper left): Urgent and important (tasks that you plan to carry out immediately; e.g., write an article that’s due today; return major client phone calls)
2. Second quadrant (upper right): Important but not urgent (tasks that you plan to do at a later time; e.g., perform daily exercise routine; call clients about work-project updates)
3. Third quadrant (lower left): Urgent but not important (tasks that you plan to delegate to another person; e.g., schedule client interviews; book airline reservations; respond to certain emails)
4. Fourth quadrant (lower right): Neither urgent nor important (tasks that you can eliminate from consideration altogether; e.g., delete junk mail; check social media accounts)
The items in each of the four quadrants can be understood based on this unambiguous structure: do, decide on, delegate, and don’t do (or eliminate).
Benefits of Regularly Using the Eisenhower Box on a Whiteboard Wall
One of the most significant features of the Eisenhower Box is that it can be used for your wide-ranging plans, such as how you should spend your time each week, and also for smaller day-to-day plans or tasks. Establishing a level of value or importance for each task through the use of the Eisenhower Matrix allows you to quickly organize and prioritize which things you want to accomplish first, do later, have someone else do, and not do at all.
Determining the difference between urgent and important tasks
Urgent tasks are duties that you feel you need to take care of quickly, such as sending emails and text messages to clients, making phone calls to clients, and responding to news stories that are relevant to your profession, job, or business. Meanwhile, important tasks are those that play a part in the long-term or overall mission, values, and objectives of your career or organization.
Establishing the differences in terms of value among your various daily tasks is relatively easy to do once, but doing so repeatedly over a period of days, weeks, or months can be challenging. For this reason, the Eisenhower Box is extremely helpful because it presents an unambiguous structure for determining these differences for as long a period as you like. Moreover, as with all aspects of life, consistency in performing job-related or other practical activities is the hardest part to master.
The Eisenhower Box is especially useful because it prompts you to question whether performing a given action is truly necessary, meaning that after questioning yourself, you’ll be more likely to transfer tasks to the “Delete” quadrant rather than thoughtlessly repeat them. And ultimately, if you were to eliminate all of the time-wasting activities you do each day, you probably wouldn’t need tips on how to be more productive in performing those tasks that matter.
A Whiteboard Wall is the Ideal Medium for Creating the Eisenhower Box
With its vast open surface, durability, and easy accessibility, a whiteboard wall can be your go-to place for creating an Eisenhower Box for every day of the week or for more extended periods of time, as it provides a huge canvas to accommodate a large box that can hold numerous items in each of its quadrants. Then, after an entry is no longer relevant or needed, it may be easily erased to provide room for writing the next task ad infinitum.
It’s Easy to Create a Long-lasting Eisenhower Box on Your Dry Erase Wall
If you prefer a more permanent Eisenhower Box in which to write down and prioritize your daily, weekly, or monthly activities, within 15 minutes, you can create an attractive, durable Box by using a ruler or yardstick and some 1/8-inch pin striping material, which is available online or at any auto parts store. You’ll be amazed to see how quick and easy it is to make one or more Eisenhower Boxes with the pinstriping material and a ruler. Having a more permanent Box in the home office, business office, classroom, or other venue will make your life much easier by not having to draw new Boxes when they become faded through repeated use.
Try Using the Eisenhower Box for Yourself on Your Whiteboard Painted Wall
As Dwight Eisenhower said when he was US President, “I have two kinds of problems, the urgent and the important. The urgent are not important, and the important are never urgent.” Thus, learning how to see both your to-do lists and your set of long-term objectives through the clarifying lens of an Eisenhower Box will help you to more purposefully and efficiently prioritize your actions through days, weeks, and more extended periods.
In conclusion, if you have an ever-expanding set of goals and tasks and haven’t yet found a prioritizing system to help you decide which ones to deal with first, creating an easy-to-use Eisenhower Box on your whiteboard wall is a superb option. The Box is not a flawless technique, but it can be a highly practical device for raising your productivity and doing away with the activities that waste your energy and time and do little to help you reach your goals.