PLEASE NOTE: This article contains a game changing tactic for achieving more of what you want in life while minimizing crisis and feeling more relaxed and joyful. It’s all here…
How minimize crisis in your life
President Dwight Eisenhower remains the most productive and efficient president to ever serve in U.S. history. Here’s why: He created and used the “decision matrix”.
It’s a diagram that helps you evaluate what tasks are priority so you manage your time daily on what is most important for furthering you to whatever it is you desire.
When his matrix is used effectively, you can also mitigate crisis situations and decrease overall stress levels.
Learning how to follow his matrix is simple — and for most people it’s a “game changer”. When you learn how to use this you’ll immediately feel more relaxed in life. You’ll increase your levels of productivity and decrease the amount of major life crisis you experience.
Specifically for people who suffer from depression, following this model may help you take positive actions to avoid bouts of low mood. Or, if you’re trying to help someone with depression, you’ll be able to stave off major crisis situations (like depression that leads to suicidal thoughts).
Here is what Eisenhower’s Decision Matrix looks like:
The Decision Matrix explained:
Let’s get a few basics out of the way before we get into the full on explanation of how to use this matrix.
Your life is made up of a series of actions. Based on the actions you take you’ll either wind up in either positive or negative situations in life. Well, that’s half true.
Of course, your environment also plays a role. Where you get to in life isn’t simply about what you do – the actions you take – to get there – you also need to factor in the things that happen to you (ie. a family member passes away). So, your life is not fully in your control. Because, you can’t stop time and as time moves, things change and life changes, and well, “shit happens”.
BUT, the actions you take everyday and how you take them are vastly important determinants for your quality of life in the short and long term. Consider this: If you were to exercise for 45 minutes daily for a year, you would likely end up with a very healthy body on day 365. Conversely, if you didn’t workout or eat well and sat at a desk every day all day, you may end up with a weight issue and high blood pressure.
The decision matrix simply allows you to organize the actions you take so that they you are doing what you need to do NOW to get to get yourself to a FUTURE YOU DESIRE. (And also, so you avoid a future you don’t desire!)
The time management errors most people make:
Many people spent the majority of their time in Quadrant 1. If that’s you, it means you mainly engage in tasks that are urgent and important. In other words, tasks that require your immediate attention and contribute to some long-term goal or commitment in life. Activities like:
- Delivering a work project by a short deadline
- Calming a crying baby
- Seeing your doctor to get a plugged ear de-waxified
- Cleaning out a moldy kitchen fridge
Yes, these are important things to do, but spending most of your time here is a trap that’s easy to fall into. You see, us humans are hardwired to manage short-term disasters first. It’s how our early ancestors survived. It’s a mechanism that’s hardwired into our brain and it keeps us safe.
But the brain doesn’t delineate, which is why we can sometimes fall into a trap of living a life where we are always “putting out fires”. That means, we get into a routine of always reacting to crisis, versus doing what needs to be done to ensure the crisis never happens in the first place. As smart as our brain is, sometimes we need to override it’s automatic mechanisms.
The problem with having a “I have to do this now!”mindset is that it can put you in a reactive mode in life. From this perspective you are always rushing to finish or fix something. Your thinking becomes narrow with no concern for the long-term future. Which ultimately defines where you are going in life.
You can’t avoid Quadrant 1 altogether. There are times where crisis situations arise around you that are not under your control. For example, if your boss drops a project for a multi-million dollar client with a two-week deadline on your desk, it’s in your best interest to comply even if you don’t exactly want to (especially if you want to keep your job!).
But, the way you work is on you. You can be someone who rushes last minute the night before. Or, the moment you receive the project you can spent some time planning your hours of work over the two-week time frame to ensure you’re not rushing and have time to do your best work.
Which person would you rather be?
Now, if you spend most of your time on urgent activities that are unimportant – they don’t further a future that matters to you – you might spend most of your time in Quadrant 3. Activities like:
- Dropping what you are doing to help a friend or family member do something that requires immediate attention and is important to them but doesn’t further your life
- Going to a job you hate every day without making any other plans to change your career
- Responding to personal text messages or emails that get in the way of important tasks
If the majority of your time is spent in Quadrant 3 you’re likely busy yet you often feel like you’re not getting anywhere in life.
What’s worse is spending most of your time in Quadrant 4. If you spend most of your time having fun, engaged in activities that make you feel good but don’t forward your life in any productive way, you’ll likely have an enjoyable life but limited achievement. These activities are primarily distractions. You may feel unfulfilled in life. Do you do these things often?:
- Watch tv
- Play video games
- Browse the web or social media
This not to say that you shouldn’t engage in fun. It’s very important for your mental health. But, if you have too much fun it doesn’t forward your overall commitments.
How to manage your life so you feel relaxed, organized, “on top of things”, and you get where you want to in life:
If you already divide your activities like the diagram below – spending most of your time in Quadrant 2 – then, BRAVO! If not, you might want to try this right away:
Spend approximately 75% of your time engaged in activities that are IMPORTANT but NOT URGENT. If you do this, you’ll minimize crisis situations because in many cases you’ve already taken care of these issues before they developed into major problems. If you throw out expired food on the day it goes bad you’ll be able to avoid a dirty, moldy, stinky fridge.
Many people with depression don’t spend enough time doing important but not urgent activities
When it comes to depression many people have not developed effective daily management skills for their own wellbeing. Which means, they either don’t know what to do, or don’t do what’s healthy and good for them enough of the time. So, their system malfunctions.
They may not eat well or engage in exercise, or they may be dealing with negative situations on a daily basis for a prolonged period of time that cause a stress overload and collapse. Doing many of these healthy and simple and sometimes “not urgent” activities are extremely important for long-term health and avoiding future bouts of depression.
When a person has depression they have already reached the level of a health crisis situation. In some cases, it could be avoided by changing activities in a person’s lifestyle.
If you’re a caregiver with a depressed loved one and you’re reading this article you should also keep this in mind. You want to make sure your loved one is engaging in healthy actions on a daily basis to ensure they minimize depressive symptoms and prevent their situation from getting worse.
You also want to avoid waiting to make sure they get the help they need. Waiting wastes time and makes the situation worse is most cases. It’s human nature to think “I’ll deal with this tomorrow”. When it comes to depression waiting can lead to suicide.
Try this today!
The power of Eisenhower’s decision matrix is in its application. Put it to use in your life. Try it for a week and witness the results. You’ll likely feel more in control, more relaxed, more joyful.
Download and print this Eisenhower Worksheet PDF to help you organize your activities and produce results immediately.