Human Kaizen

Decision Matrix

Take logical decisions through frameworks.

Decision Matrix

The Eisenhower Decision Matrix has been used for over half a century and allowed the retired General to run the country so effectively that jokes about his time on the golf course were rampant. But Ike was not exhibiting avoidance behavior, he was using military precision to effectively run the Executive Branch.

Decision Matrix Chart

This concept of trying to live in the Not Urgent but Important allows us to be proactive and lowers stress because the only emergencies are real emergencies, not failure to plan ahead that create our own fires to extinguish. Having the trust in your systems and processes allows mental energy to be conserved and focused on the most important issues instead of being wasted on checking the trade rumors or latest celebrity gossip or micromanagement of staff.

People who grew up in the 1980’s or earlier understood the delay associated with taking pictures and waiting a week for a roll of film to be developed, so if you needed those pictures for an event or project you would have to build that time into your mental Gant chart. Same thing with cooking a Thanksgiving dinner and knowing the turkey needs four hours while the casserole needs 24 minutes and so can wait until the bird is pulled from the oven. This executive functioning prioritization is one of the critical mindsets needed for success with a business or a bunch of kids.

Delegate as much as possible. I had an incident with clogged pipes (the big 3” sewer one in a 125+ year old house, not just a drain in the bathroom) and after an hour of attempting to correct I outsourced it. What would have taken me over a day to fix (plus cost of tools and being stinky and probably making a huge mess) the professionals I outsourced to had it done in three hours for a reasonable payment, allowing me to work and then make dinner with the kids. A great exchange of value and it kept my focus and sanity so I was able to do the Important things. In this example the Not Urgent became Urgent but it was still better to outsource than attempt to fix myself even though I could have done so.

My old assistant used to tell me at least a dozen times a week “So and so needed this, I took care of it but thought you should know.” Her capability in handling these things easily freed up an entire business day a week for me and prevented things from escalating to a fire that required my attention. It increased profitability and gave me peace of mind. Our ability to run the Eisenhower Matrix let my team and I be able to go home and spend time with our families and not worry because we had tasks allocated properly.

So take a half hour and look at your life (both in work and outside it) and place all the little things in the four quadrants and see if you should be moving some things around to be more like Ike.