The importance of effective time management cannot be overemphasized. One crucial tip to effectively manage your time is the prioritization of your tasks by the level of their importance and urgency. This can be accomplished with several prioritization tools, such as the Eisenhower Matrix. This tutorial walks you through the steps required to create a suitable prioritization matrix with the tool of your choice.
Contrary to the belief that a prioritization matrix works for only for project management, you can apply it to daily living. There are several templates, however, and with these simple steps, you can create your matrix.
1. List all your tasks
Most times, we already have a mental list of what we plan to achieve. Instead of leaving it in your mind, transfer your list of tasks to paper to prevent you from missing any of them.
2. Consider consequences
Here, you need to ask yourself, “What happens if I don’t prioritize this task?” Do this for all the tasks on your list.
3. Define the level of importance of each task
After considering the consequences, you can tell which tasks are more important on your list. Draw up two categories (low and high importance) and rank each task accordingly based on your responses in “Step 2.”
4. Decide what tasks are more urgent
After splitting your tasks into two categories, split them further into sub-categories. This time, divide them by low and high urgency. At the end of this, you should have four categories in total.
5. Assign values to each task
For each task, assign a number value between 1 and 4 to depict priority levels. This will help you shut out the mental noise and achieve your tasks faster and more effectively. Here’s what the numbers mean:
- 1 – High importance, high urgency.
- 2 – High importance, low urgency.
- 3 – Low importance, high urgency.
- 4 – Low importance, low urgency.
Tips for Using a Prioritization Matrix
It is one thing to create a prioritization matrix, but knowing how to use it is another situation. In this section, we explain how to use a prioritization matrix to attain efficiency.
It is important to put your strengths and weaknesses into perspective before preparing a prioritization matrix. If you’re an expert at a particular task, that means it would take you a short length of time to complete it. However, if you find that you’re not too comfortable with a certain task, then you may need a longer time period to accomplish it.
With your strengths and weaknesses in mind, you are in a better position to rank tasks according to importance and urgency.
2. Define your criteria
Another important thing to consider when preparing a prioritization matrix is the criteria you’ll be using to assess the importance of each task. The elements of your criteria options should be centered around the features of the tasks or activities you need to do. Such elements may include:
- due date
- level of understanding
- estimated effort to complete
- resources assigned
We recommend working with 5 to 10 criteria so that you have sufficient information for decision-making.
3. Assign weighted values to each criterion
After determining your criteria, the next step is to create a rating scale in which values get assigned to each item. The total weight should then help you differentiate between important and unimportant options. It should also help you rank your tasks in descending order, placing the most important at the top.
It is important to decide on your assigned values early enough. If you create a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being the most important, it could look like the following example
Task 1 – Prepare a Vision Plan for the ABC Project
- due date – 5
- level of understanding – 2
4. Calculate the total scores
After deciding on the score for each option, calculate the total score of each task. Based on the score, you can rank the tasks to determine their priority level.
You will always achieve more when you list and prioritize your daily to-do tasks. Also, it is a good idea to treat every important task as an urgent task. Always prioritize your tasks and follow the list, and you’ll see how your personal productivity will begin to climb.