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Have you heard of the Eisenhower Box?

President Eisenhower, Supreme Commander for the Allied Forces in WWII and later the 34th President of the United States was a busy man. (photo courtesy Eisenhower library)

Here is how he structured his day.

Are you pulled to focus on the IMPORTANT & URGENT tasks in Today’s To Do List (Q1) at the expense of the IMPORTANT but not URGENT scheduled list (Q2)?


You will always have “stuff” that needs to be dealt with in Q1 but to be effective time needs to be allocated to the longer term strategic planning of your role. It is a leadership trait in the domain of IMPORTANT but not URGENT. Ignoring this area dooms you to constantly putting out bush fires and it is exhausting.


In General Eisenhower’s critical wartime role, his focus on the IMPORTANT but not URGENT planning no doubt played a significant part in the allies overall victory.

What hijacks you from Q2 activities? If you are anything like me it is the avalanche of emails, responding to others’ priorities and dealing with daily interruption. In this I am my own worst enemy.


Creating a schedule of weekly & monthly structures to fulfill your commitments ensures that you negotiate external requests, manage your email access and create coded categories of importance.


For instance, can I delegate it if it is NOT IMPORTANT & URGENT  (Q3)? And if it is NOT IMPORTANT & NOT URGENT (Q4) it is a time waster … dump it.


I once worked with a manager who micro-managed his team. This not only dis-empowered his team members, but meant that he only focussed on Q1 activities without allowing himself any time in Q2; in effect crises management.


Regular breaks and time to recharge is an IMPORTANT but NOT URGENT Q2 activity, which reduces stress, fatigue and maintains peak performance.

Another useful reference is Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.

I trust that you find this useful and welcome your feedback and experience.


Marg Attwood.

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