S. J. Kelley

Good bye burnout; hello Eisenhower Matrix!

So the Writing in Public thing failed miserably. It was a success in that I felt guilty for not writing, which was the point, but I realized that I’m burnt out. My schedules never really had any leisure time, so I never really got a chance to recharge (turns out washing clothes is not rejuvenating). I would feel burnt out, not work on the novel to relax, but because my schedule said I was supposed to be working on the novel, I never truly relaxed, and instead was full of guilt. All time. So, I gave myself permission to be lazy. Wow. What a difference it makes to sit back at the end of the day and not have a cloud of “I should be…” hanging over my head. This is why people enjoy weekends!

While relaxing, I read a fabulous post on procrastination. At it’s core was the “Eisenhower Matrix” popularized in “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen Covey. It looks like this:

Urgent Not Urgent
Important
Q1
Urgent and
Important
Q2
Not urgent and
Important
Not
Important
Q3
Urgent and
Not important
Q4
Not urgent and
Not important

This was paired with a cool Eisenhower quote: “What is important is seldom urgent, and what is urgent is seldom important.” The author then goes on to describe how the things that get you ahead in an entrepreneurial side business aren’t usually urgent (like writing a novel) but are nonetheless quite important. We will never achieve our long-term dreams/goals without working on Q2; it’s what gets us ahead. But these lofty goals get overwhelmed by using urgency as the sole method to prioritize where we put our effort, when in reality there should be very few things in Q1. Which means we spend more time in Q3, doing those urgent but not important tasks that keep us busy.

The post goes on to describe where different types of procrastinators fall, and the section on “Impostinators” fit me almost exactly: we look productive, but we’re working on tasks that aren’t all important and won’t get us closer to our goals. He gives examples of “spending the whole day answering emails, running errands, making phone calls, organizing lists and schedules,” etc. If this is a problem for you, I encourage you to read his lengthy post.

So now I want to look at my major goals in life and put them in this matrix. This task, in and of itself, is classic of procrastination — lots of planning, little doing — but it makes me feel better! Why do I want to put all of my goals in the matrix, instead of just my novel writing ones? Well, that was a major point I took away from the post. Q1 and Q2 tasks, the important tasks, should take priority, and urgency should be defined as “what would benefit most from being done sooner” rather than what has the closest deadline. Q2 tasks could be spending time with family, which is just as important as improving my craft.

Goal: Develop my self-publishing business
Urgent Not Urgent
Important
Q1
Write new words
Q2
Update scene metadata
Improve craft
Learn nonverbal behaviour
Not
Important
Q3
Update “Writing in Public”
Q4
Read self-publishing news (The Passive Voice)
Read KBoards
Read author blogs
Listen to podcasts
Work out better schedule
Goal: Everything else (Family, Health)
Urgent Not Urgent
Important
Q1
Sort out taxes
Sort out bills
Book camping site
Q2
Spend time with kids
Exercise
Get kids’ back-to-school supplies
Make basement livable space
List stuff to sell
Not
Important
Q3
Do Laundry
Q4
Watch Netflix
Go down internet rabbit hole

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *