Strategic Procrastination with the Eisenhower Productivity Matrix

The Eisenhower Productivity Matrix was developed by President Eisenhower as a means of getting things done. The matrix is formed by two dimensions: Urgent versus No urgent and Important versus Not Important. Importance is big picture stuff, meaning important in the big picture of your life. Urgent is usually smaller picture stuff, upon which the bigger picture often depends. Like paying your bills. By crossing two dimensions of urgency and importance, Eisenhower created the matrix that bears his name.

Make a To-Do List each Morning

If you’re just managing your day-to-day affairs, a To-Do List is probably sufficient for routine stress management. Over and over again, the simple To-Do List pulls people back from the brink. Why? When you have a lot to do, that’s a cognitive burden. Sometimes you do forget, and then life becomes even more complicated. A To-Do List eliminates fuss and the uncertainty of memory. Any item that makes the list, stays there until completed. Your job is to make the list and work the list. Simple.

A Plan Helps you Respond to Stress

Stress and exhaustion go together. You may sit down to work without any clear any idea of what you should be working on. If so, then it’s imperative that you get a plan. Like anxiety, stress is about uncertainty. A plan gives you the feeling that your future is predictable, which gives you a feeling of control. How detailed should it be? The short answer is: Your plan should be as detailed as it needs to be.

Stress as a Collision of your Values

Stress represents incompatible priorities in life, a collision between your core values. When “I should work hard” does battle with “I should be a good parent,” the result is stress. Stress is thus a war between incompatible self-definitions. To eliminate stress, increase self-knowledge. Understand and systematically clarify your values. Stress is the universe's way of using situations to allow us to clarify, expand, and refine our notion of identity, of who we are.