With the Eisenhower Matrix, you can make informed, strategic decisions about your to-do list and prioritizing tasks that allow you to concentrate your time and energy on what matters most.
Find the Right Time for the Right Task
In his book “When,” researcher and best-selling author Daniel Pink writes that behavioral scientists have found most people generally follow the same daily pattern: Their positivity levels peak in the morning, plummet in the afternoon, and then rebound in the evening. To maximize efficiency, you can use this emotional cycle to guide what type of work you should be doing and when.
Pink’s research demonstrates that vigilance, or the cognitive ability to be hyper-focused and to keep distractions to a minimum, spikes in the morning and directly after short breaks – meaning these are the best times to make difficult decisions or complete tasks that require your full attention.
In addition, the best time to schedule busywork tasks that require less thought is in the afternoon trough, when energy and mood are both low. Finally, Pink found that it’s best to save more creative tasks for the late afternoon or early evening – a time when most of us have an elevated mood but, more importantly, less vigilance, thereby allowing greater amounts of unrestrained or free thinking.
However, Pink also points out that about 25% of people don’t follow the same daily pattern. These people are either “owls,” who often reach peak analytical performance late in the evening (9:00 p.m.) and rebound in the morning, or “larks,” who tend to experience the peak, trough, and rebound a few hours earlier than normal.
It’s important to understand your internal clock and schedule your day around the time you’ll be most effective at various tasks – you’ll often find you can complete tasks faster and more easily, thus saving time and energy for other parts of your day.
Overall, developing a strategic approach to thinking about your time – how much you have and how you use it – can lead to increased productivity, a calmer mental state, and most importantly, more time to stay focused on what you actually want to be doing.