No one is blessed enough to just sit down and immediately bang out a blog post or script for an explainer video. Content creation takes time, effort, and organization –not to mention the mental energy involved.
Having been there and done that, I can say, I have tried it all.
I have tried the Pomodoro technique, the bullet journal, and, at some point, even used a whiteboard to track my tasks.
I have used Trello, Monday, and Notion and tried my hand at DIY versions of these tools.
The thing is, I still wasn’t able to check off everything on my to-do list without forgetting something or going over the timeline.
That’s until I stumbled across a productivity hack that changed everything.
I call it the Eisenhower Matrix.
You can use this system to stay on top of tasks, delegate tasks, schedule your time, follow up on tasks, and plan for the future, all in one fell swoop.
It’s quick, it’s simple, and it doesn’t require any fancy tools.
Ready to give it a try? Let’s get started.
What’s the Eisenhower Matrix?
It’s a productivity technique first developed by President Dwight Eisenhower, the 34th President of the United States.
This system helps prioritize tasks based on urgency and importance.
Urgent tasks aren’t important; important tasks aren’t urgent.
The Eisenhower Matrix helps you distinguish between the two and plan your time accordingly.
It’s made up of four quadrants: Urgent & Important, Not Urgent & Important, Urgent & Not Important, and Not Urgent & Not Important.
You can begin by drawing an X and Y axis on a sheet of paper to create four quadrants, as shown in the picture below.
Place the x-axis above the y-axis such that they form an inverted letter L.
Once the matrix is set, plot your tasks into the appropriate quadrant.
The Y Axis covers the degree of importance, with “not important” at the bottom and “important” at the top.
The X-Axis covers urgency, with “urgent” on the left side and “not urgent” on the far right side.
Each box has a label that serves as a cue for specific actions:
- If the task is urgent and important (quadrant one), you should start working on it right away.
- If the task is not urgent and important (quadrant two), you should decide when to do it. Schedule time to work on it before someone fills it up as an urgent task.
- If the task is urgent but “not important” (quadrant three), you should delegate it to someone else.
- And lastly, if the task isn’t urgent or important (quadrant four), you should forget it. You can delete or archive it.
While you can use the Eisenhower Matrix to plan the day, you can create a matrix for your team or an entire month or year.
Once you get the hang of it, you can prioritize tasks and plan your time effectively.
Benefits of Using an Eisenhower Matrix for Productivity Hack
So, how does the Eisenhower Matrix help with content creation?
- You can break down complex tasks into smaller, easier-to-manage parts.
- You can break down complex tasks into smaller, easier-to-manage parts. You can prioritize tasks and focus on the most important ones first.
- Allows you to categorize and rank tasks. You can set deadlines and track progress to avoid missing any important task or deadline.
- It helps reduce stress and anxiety by creating an organized task structure.
- You can delegate tasks and free up time for other tasks.
- And you can plan and make changes to the matrix as needed. The Eisenhower Matrix is a great tool for content creators because it helps them stay organized and focused.
When Should You Use It?
You can use the Eisenhower Matrix for any task. Whether creating content, planning a marketing campaign, or organizing your time, the matrix helps you prioritize and focus on important tasks.
Here are some scenarios where it can come in handy:
- When you have multiple tasks and don’t know where to start.
- When you need to set priorities and deadlines for tasks.
- When you have too many ideas but don’t know which ones to pursue first.
- When you’re feeling overwhelmed and need to take a step back.
- Enhancing and improving harmony between the team members
- For better time management and planning
- When you want to create an organized task structure
What Are the 4 Levels of Prioritizing Tasks?
The four levels of task prioritization are:
Level 1 – Critical Tasks (Important and Urgent)
These tasks are considered urgent and time-sensitive. If you’re working with a team, the team is supposed to stop everything else they’re doing and focus on these tasks first. These tasks pose a risk to the business if they’re not completed immediately.
Level 2 – High Priority Tasks (Important but Not Urgent)
These tasks are important but not time-sensitive. These tasks should be scheduled as soon as possible and completed on time, but they don’t pose the same risk as level 1 tasks. However, they should done within one week or so.
Level 3 – Neutral Tasks (Not Important but Urgent)
These tasks are not as important but still need to be completed. These tasks can wait a few days but should still be done eventually.
It’s best to delegate these tasks to others or outsource them. For example, say you need to revamp your website, but the task isn’t as important as other tasks. You could delegate this task to a web developer or outsource it.
Level 4 – Non-essential Tasks (Not Important and Not Urgent)
These tasks are unimportant and can wait for a few days or weeks. You can delete or archive these tasks as they aren’t necessary.
For example, if you have an idea for a blog post that isn’t time-sensitive (level 4 four), you can prioritize other tasks first and return to this blog post later when you have nothing else to do.
Now that you know the basics of the Eisenhower Matrix, it’s time to get organized and tackle your content marketing to-do list.
How Do You Prioritize Tasks?
So, how do you prioritize tasks?
Listing Down All Your Tasks:
The first step is to list down all your tasks. That could include tasks such as creating content, shooting videos, optimizing blog posts, and more.
You can create a spreadsheet or table or use a more sophisticated tool like KanbanFlow.
Or you could list them down using a pen and paper.
Identify Each Task’s Weight and Criteria:
Next, identify each task’s weight and criteria. The idea is to compare the input vs output ratio of each task. This will help you determine which tasks are more rewarding and must be prioritized. For example, creating new content pieces may take more time than optimizing a blog post, but it might have a higher value in terms of return.
Determine the Level of Urgency:
Once you’ve identified each task’s weight and criteria, the next step is to determine the level of urgency for each task. Do some tasks need to be done immediately? Can some tasks wait for a few days or even weeks? That will help you decide which tasks should go into which levels of the Eisenhower Matrix.
Make a Plan and Set Deadlines:
Now it’s time to plan and set deadlines for each task. Determine how much time you need for each task and then set a deadline for completing them. Make sure to add a time buffer in case something unexpected comes up.
Analyze the Completed Matrix:
Once you’ve completed the matrix, it’s time to analyze your tasks. You should review each task and ensure it’s at the right urgency level. If a task should be at a higher urgency level, move it up the list and adjust the other tasks accordingly.
How to Create an Eisenhower Matrix in Microsoft’s note-taking tool OneNote
Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to create an Eisenhower Matrix in OneNote:
Step #1: Set Up the Axis
You can label the page as “Eisenhower Matrix.”
Next, label your x-axis as “Urgent” and “not urgent.” Be sure to leave enough space between the two words.
Then label your y-axis as “Important” and “not important.” Again, leave enough space between the two words to add your tasks.
The resulting screen should look something like this:
Pro Tip: Use Headline style font for the axes labels to make them stand out and be more legible.
Step #2: Label the Quadrants
Identify the squares by labelling each one of the four quadrants. Label the top-left quadrant as “Do,” bottom-left as “Delegate,” top-right as “Schedule,” and bottom-right as “Delete.”
Beneath each quadrant, click and move your cursor to the “to do” function (the icon with a red checkmark inside a square) before the heading. Click the “to do” icon.
It should look something like this:
Pro Tip: Use “heading 2” style font for the quadrants labels to make them more legible.
Step 3: Add Your Tasks
Now it’s time to add your tasks.
Write down all the tasks under the appropriate quadrant.
For example, you may write “Blog post about content marketing” under the “Do” quadrant.
With every new task you add, click on the “to do” function to add a checkbox and mark them as done when completed.
Pro Tip: Use a “body” style font for the task labels to make them more legible.
You can pull these tasks from sticky notes, notepads, paper scraps, phone notes, lists, emails, and more.
Step 4: Move Your Tasks to Appropriate Quadrants
As you’re working on tasks, move them to different quadrants. For example, move a task to the “Do” quadrant if it is urgent and important.
If a task is not urgent but important, move it to the “Schedule” quadrant.
Once you move a task, check it off your list—that way, you know which tasks have been completed and which ones are still pending.
The idea is to prioritize the tasks on the first quadrant and work your way down the other quadrants.
If you can’t complete a task in the “DO” today, move it to another quadrant.
The first step is to put it in the “decide” quadrant and schedule it for a later date.
And continue to monitor your progress and adjust timelines accordingly.
Step 5: Take Action
The most beautiful part about using OneNote to create an Eisenhower matrix is the ability to add tags to your tasks.
You can right-click on a task and assign it a tag. Your options include tagging a task as “important,” “remember for later,” “definition,” or “question.”
Marking a task as “important” will add a gold star next to the checkbox. This is a reminder that it’s an important task that must be done first.
Pro Tip: Use colour codes to distinguish consistent projects or themes, such as colleagues, projects, or tasks.
Step 6: Make Your Rules and Follow Them
As you build your matrix, remember it’s important to set and follow the rules.
To keep your matrix manageable, here are a few simple rules you can follow:
Keep All the Tasks on a Single Page
Using multiple pages for your tasks can be confusing and time-consuming. Keep all the tasks on a single page, so it’s visible and easy to manage.
If your list of tasks is too long in that some creep off the page or screen, then perhaps you should consider revising and re-prioritizing them.
See if you can delegate, delete, or schedule any tasks on your list.
I know what you’re thinking: “what if all the tasks need to be done?”
Well, that’s why you should prioritize your tasks and focus on the most important ones first. Remember, you can only do so much in a day.
Limit Your Priorities to Three Tasks a Day
Don’t overload yourself. Keep your priorities to a minimum and focus on completing them one at a time.
Trying to do too many things at once can cause confusion and frustration.
Keep your to-do list focused and straightforward to be productive without feeling overwhelmed.
Placing tasks in the “Do” quadrant doesn’t necessarily mean they all must be completed today. It simply means that tasks in this quadrant should be given priority when scheduling your day.
If you have an urgent and important task that must be completed today, move everything else to the “Decide” and “Delegate” quadrants. Make sure everybody knows that you’re not available until you finish the task at hand.
It also helps to block the day’s calendar so no meetings or calls can be added.
Move Delegated Tasks to a Separate Page
Once you delegate a task, don’t forget to move it from the “Delegate” quadrant to a separate page. That should help to keep the matrix organized and focused.
By creating a separate page for delegated tasks, you can easily monitor their progress and make sure they are completed on time.
Make It Your Own
Now that you know how to create an Eisenhower matrix in OneNote customize it to make it your own.
You can add colour codes, tags, deadlines, images—anything that helps you better manage and prioritize tasks.
Create a Wins Page
Want to track your progress? Create a wins page and list down every task you complete.
Every completed task must be moved to the wins page. That will give you a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment, making the matrix more fun to work with.
Plus, you’ll have a list of successes to reflect on whenever you feel like you haven’t been productive enough.
Plus, when it’s empty, it can act as a reminder to get back on track and finish what you started.
Take Breaks To Stay Motivated
Don’t forget to take a break every now and then. Taking breaks lets you stay focused and motivated while tackling your content marketing tasks.
Go for a walk, have a cup of coffee, nap, or sit back and think about what you’ve done.
These short breaks can help revitalize your mind and push you to finish your tasks.
Problems with Eisenhower Matrix
The core idea behind the Eisenhower matrix is to prioritize tasks based on urgency and importance.
However, this approach does have its limitations.
Let’s take a look at a few of them:
#1. It does not account for context
The Eisenhower Matrix does not consider the context or the environment in which the tasks are being carried out.
For example, it does not consider the impact of deadlines or other external factors that may influence the task at hand.
#2. No Alignment on Criteria
People may often have different criteria when deciding what tasks should be prioritized.
Therefore, the Eisenhower Matrix cannot guarantee that everyone will agree on which tasks should be given priority.
Remember, the customer should be at the center of all decisions. But it also helps to consider the resources available, the timeline, and other factors to make an informed decision.
#3. Not Future-focused
The Eisenhower Matrix is designed to help manage tasks that need to be completed now, but it is not effective in helping you plan for the future.
While you can use the matrix to plan your tasks, it does not give you an accurate view of the future.
To understand what lies ahead, you must also consider other factors, such as trends, customer feedback, and competition.
#4. No Process to Establish Weights
The Eisenhower Matrix also lacks a process to establish the weights of tasks.
Deciding which tasks should be given more priority than others can be difficult and requires careful consideration.
5. No System to Monitor Progress
The Eisenhower Matrix does not provide a monitoring system.
It can only be used to prioritize tasks, but it does not provide a way to measure completion and performance.
Overall, the Eisenhower Matrix is still an excellent tool for managing your tasks, but it does have some limitations.
Alternatives to the Eisenhower Matrix
If the Eisenhower matrix isn’t your thing, there are other ways to manage your content marketing tasks.
Here are five other alternatives that you can use to stay productive:
#1. The Kanban Method
The Kanban method is a visual representation of tasks, with columns for “To Do,” “In Progress,” and “Done.”
The idea is to move tasks from the “To Do” column to the “In Progress” and eventually the “Done” column.
Note that each column should only have a limited number of tasks. That should help ensure you’re not overloading yourself and encourages you to focus on one task at a time.
#2. The Pomodoro Technique
The Pomodoro technique is a time management method that breaks down tasks into 25-minute intervals, followed by a five-minute break.
There are lots of Pomodoro apps available for free that can help you keep track of your intervals and breaks.
#3. The Pareto Analysis Method
The Pareto analysis is a way of prioritizing tasks by importance.
It’s based on the 80/20 rule, which states that 20% of the effort produces 80% of the results.
With this method, the idea is to focus your energy on tasks that are most likely to produce the biggest impact when implemented.
#4. The Ivy Lee Method
The Ivy Lee method is a simple task management system where you list the six most important tasks of the day and then prioritize them from most to least important.
Once you’re done with the first task, you move on to the second one, and so on.
#5. The Ishikawa Diagram
The Ishikawa diagram is an effective problem-solving technique that helps you identify the root cause of a problem.
It’s often used in the manufacturing and product development industries, but it can also be applied to content marketing.
It serves to identify the potential causes of disruption to processes and workflows, helping you to manage better and prioritize tasks.
In addition to identifying the causes and effects of a problem, the Ishikawa diagram can help you create better content.
Some Final Words
So, if you want to tackle your content marketing tasks like a pro, use the Eisenhower Matrix for maximum productivity and efficiency.