In today’s busy world it can be a struggle to juggle the ever increasing demands our time but learning to prioritise effectively can at least make it feel like your time is well spent. We all have our own internal value system that dictates to us the urgency of a given task but it is so easy to get caught in up in “busy work” that we can be on the run all day and yet feel as though we have accomplished nothing.
This is where the Priority Action Matrix comes in. Based on the Eisenhower Method, it’s an effective tool that can give structure and guide your approach when faced with conflicting deadlines and overwhelming to do lists. Its also equally effective in both business and personal situations.
The matrix is based on an impact-effort axis with four quadrants and will help you categorise and order your tasks to achieve the most value, impact or reward for your time and input. By utilising this approach your tasks or projects will fall into one of the following categories:
Quick Wins (High impact/Low effort)
These tasks are the most attractive as there is a lot of value in return for less effort. Focus on these where and when you can.
Major Projects (High impact/High Effort)
There is a lot of value in these and they can be very rewarding, but they are also more energy and time intensive which means other tasks can suffer as a result. Be honest with yourself about the true value and impact these tasks have when factoring them into your priority and task lists.
Fill Ins (Low impact/Low effort)
These tasks have little value and require little effort so focus on these only when you have spare time and be ready to put them aside or delegate when something more important comes along.
Thankless Tasks (Low impact/High effort)
These tasks have little value and require lots of time and effort so minimise these tasks, or delegate where possible, ensuring they don’t take energy away from your quick wins and major projects.
To group your tasks into these categories follow the steps below:
Using the Matrix
- List all of your tasks, deadlines and projects.
- Give each item two scores from 0-10 (0 being lowest and 10 being highest), one for effort and one for impact.
- Draw up your matrix using the image below as a guide.
- Plot the tasks onto the matrix according to your scores for effort and impact.
- Use the outcome to prioritise your tasks focusing on the quick wins first with major projects factored in. The fill ins and thankless tasks can be completed when and if you have additional time or can be delegated when possible.
Because the action priority matrix is based on your personal values and scores the outcome will help you to achieve more bang for your buck in the same amount of time. Where will you implement this approach in your life?