How to prioritise your workload and manage your time more effectively

Source: The little book of big management theories – JAMES MCGRATH & BOB BATES


The Eisenhower principle describes how President Dwight D. Eisenhower organised his workload. Eisenhower’s insight was that you should throw away all those to-do lists that you laboriously update each day and instead concentrate on doing what’s important to you. By definition, only work that helps you achieve your aims is important. Bearing in mind that he masterminded operation overlord (d-day), he probably knew what he was talking about.

One theory suggests that you divide tasks into four groups.

The eisenhower principle

How To Use It

  • Get rid of your to-do lists. Instead list the work that helps you achieve your aims. This includes keeping your boss satisfied. You also need to keep your manager’s boss happy as it is they who will appoint your manager’s successor.
  • Once you have your list of work allocate it to one of the following four categories.
    1. Why are you doing it? If it requires action delegate it – if not bin it.
    2. Delegate it! Don’t let someone else’s crisis become your urgent problem. By all means help colleagues but make sure that their work is slotted into your priorities. Be assertive. Avoid time thieves. They steal a commodity which once lost you can never recover.
    3. Set time aside for doing it! The place won’t fall apart if you don’t do these things now. But don’t keep putting them off or else they may come back to bite you.
    4. Do it now! These are probably the issues that you currently spend most time on. They need to be dealt with quickly and they help you achieve your aims.
      • To reduce the number of do it now jobs landing on your desk, tackle some of the set aside tasks languishing in your drawer. If you can sort these out you will eliminate the source of many problems. For example, tackle the source of customer complaints, and urgent complaints will reduce. You can never eliminate all the do it now items but good forward planning can reduce the amount of time you spend buzzing around like a blue-a**** fly.

Questions To Ask

  • If tackled, which of the set time aside jobs in my in-tray would save me most time?
  • Which tasks should I redirect at source to another member of staff so that they never reach my desk?

The Little Book of Big Management Theories

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When you give (money), you are abundance =)


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