Crack your productivity slump with Eisenhower Matrix

The development of Eisenhower of matrix came into motion by Dwight D. Eisenhower, the 34th President of the United States. His accomplishments stretched before and after he became the President. He achieved endeavours include:

  1. Instating programmes such as DARPA and NASA
  2. Instating the development of the Highway system in the US
  3. Served as the President of Columbia University
  4. Become the first supreme commander of NATO
  5. Supreme Commander of the Allied forces in Europe
  6. Chief of Staff of the US Army

His productivity system referred to as the Eisenhower matrix highlights his ability to sustain his productive endeavours for a long period. In this method of Eisenhower matrix, the simplistic nature of this decision-making tool is used to highlight what’s important and urgent on your agenda.

So, let’s break this down:

It consists of four different quadrants and for each quadrant, there’s an actionable outcome on how to separate each task or objective in your to-do list.

  1. Urgent and important – these are tasks that should be completed now. 
  2. Important, but not urgent – can be scheduled at a later time or date.
  3. Urgent, but not important – tasks that can be delegated to others.
  4. Neither urgent nor important – task that can be eliminated or deleted.

There’s a feedback thought pattern behind this matrix because it makes the user’s question the ‘importance’ of the task. For tasks involving that are urgent and important, they should complete now like writing this post so I can publish it tonight. Tasks that are important, but not urgent should be scheduled like exercising, doing grocery shopping or calling family or friends. Differently, to urgent but not important tasks should be delegated to others like hiring a virtual assistant to carry out administrative work like answer emails or booking flights. And, finally, tasks that are neither urgent nor important like watching TV or spending hours on social media should not be entertained.

I found this matrix to be helpful because as a framework I can visualise the importance of each task. It allows me to make a conscious decision on what to focus on. Concerning with long term goals, this matrix provides an advantage of creating an overview and narrowing down on areas of procrastination.

Let me know your thoughts on this in the comments below 🙂

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A secondary network

Introducing the following article written by Tiago Forte: Building a Second Brain: An Overview in which he describes the following message:

How many brilliant ideas have you had and forgotten? How many insights have you failed to take action on? How much useful advice have you slowly forgotten as the years have passed? We feel a constant pressure to be learning, improving ourselves, and making progress. We spend countless hours every year reading, listening, and watching informational content. And yet, where has all that valuable knowledge gone? Where is it when we need it? Our brain can only store a few thoughts at any one time. Our brain is for having ideas, not storing them. Building A Second Brain is a methodology for saving and systematically reminding us of the ideas, inspirations, insights, and connections we’ve gained through our experience. It expands our memory and our intellect using the modern tools of technology and networks.

Coming across this article, the initial paragraphs provided an insight into a question that I been asking myself for a very long time…

How do I recall everything that I’ve learned?

And, the solution was pretty simple ‘Building a secondary brain‘. This was the point where I realised I was so dependant on my brain for storing every information that I found online and offline. I was wasting my time in a relentless pursuit to accumulate information but never being able to action this knowledge because I would have forgotten it in a matter of days. And, the reason for this was explained by Hermann Ebbinghaus.

Forgetting Curve

Ebbinghaus’s forgetting curve explains that the ability of the brain to retain information decreases over time. He found that the forgetting curve to be exponential because memory loss is rapid within a few days of learning any new information. 

Notion

This idea of building a secondary network to act as a digital brain that is used for preserving ideas and turning these ideas into reality. A digital repository for centralising digital information into one network that can be used to store and retain information such as articles, books, quotes or even messages from podcasts.

Having discovered this new concept of a secondary brain, I now religiously practice this through the use of an app called Notion. I’ve previously been using Notion during my postgrad year as a means of note-taking – having realised that the potential of this app can be far greater I now use this to build my own secondary network/brain.

A typical example would be if I am listening to a podcast, and I came across a message that resonates with me, I pause it, write my thoughts and ideas on Notion in an individual folder called ‘Key message’ along with the timestamp. Then I can then use this “potential idea” for creating a future blog post or supplement it with additional ideas. But, the message I wanted to highlight was that it sits in my secondary network. I don’t worry about it or tell myself ‘I wish I’d written that down somewhere’.

As a novice, I’m relatively new to the idea of creating a Second Brain/network. It’s already provided a measurable way to organise my digital and non-digital information. I’ve found that storing new information and more importantly retaining that information to be a relative ease. So, you readers out there give it a shot and share your methods of a secondary network in the comments below. 

Habits – Why we love it!

Habits – don’t we just love them? Fundamentally, it’s considered to be the most boring course of action you take in your daily routine. But that’s exactly the point, in the article Mastering Boring Fundamentals written by James Stuber.

He expresses that our boring fundamentals (BF) include:

  1. Sleeping 8 hour a night
  2. Exercising regularly
  3. Reading books
  4. Practicing learning
  5. Eating healthy

Being consistent with our own boring fundamentals can help us advance in any endeavours we set our mind to. However, the repetitive nature of practicing our boring fundamentals can be tedious and mundane. It disconnects you from the positive outlook you had about that goal, which evidently results in a plateau.

So, how do we overcome such plateau? It’s important to realise that having a (right-off) day or taking time out to recuperate from the rigours of being consistent is acceptable. But, having the right mind set and building a system around your boring fundamentals can help you improve each day. More about systematising in next week’s blog. So if you guys have any boring fundamentals, let me know in the comments below.

What to systematise?

Building on from my last week’s blog post, I think this wraps up why establishing successful habits could eventually lead to an automatic system.

  1. Things we tend to systematise in our life:
    1. Paying bills
    2. Working and studying procedure
    3. Sleeping pattern
    4. Following dietary or exercise program
    5. Daily planning

I can probably add a lot more to this list. However, by automating the boring stuff we free ourselves to focus on work that’s truly important to us.

Recommendation to help implement systems in your life:

  • Creating a list of most important tasks and carry them out in a single day (batching)
  • Track your habits – often now a lot of apps have been developed to implement such tracking systems such as Habitica.
  • Setup a morning routine system – a system that provides that essential win for the day.
  • Setup a night routine system
  • Putting all your appointments on the calendar
  • Plan your meals for the week
  • store your digital information on (Notion)
  • Automate your bills, credit card payments, savings

This basic idea of systematising doesn’t need to be overly complicated. When implementing a new system which has been optimised through trial and error – look to find another area to systematise. So if you guys have your boring fundamentals set up as system share in the comments below. I would very much like to learn anything new that I can use to hone my currents systems.