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Do you suffer from priority-blindness?

By Sam Instone - August 21, 2018

Dwight Eisenhower was the 34th President of the United States.

He lived one of the most productive lives imaginable.

Do you know his secret?

Before his 8-year term at the White House, Eisenhower was a five-star general in the United States Army.

He also served as President of Columbia University and the first Supreme Commander of NATO.

You’d think he’d have little time for anything else.

Yet he still played golf and oil painted regularly.

He had an incredible ability to sustain his productivity.

Not just for weeks or months, but for decades.

His most famous productivity strategy is the Eisenhower Box.

Or, Eisenhower Matrix as it’s referred to by some.

It’s a simple decision-making tool that can be used in various aspects of your life.

Including financial planning.

The Eisenhower Box: How to be more productive

Eisenhower’s strategy for organising your time and tasks is simple.

Using the decision matrix, you separate your actions based on four possibilities.

1. Urgent and important (Do)

2. Important, but not urgent (Schedule)

3. Urgent, but not important (Delegate)

4. Neither urgent nor important (Eliminate)

Here’s an example of what mine looks like today:

Sam Eisenhower Box

It may be urgent, but is it important?

According to Eisenhower:

“What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important”

Urgent tasks are things that you feel you need to react to.

Emails, phone calls, texts, news stories.

Paying bills, buying groceries.

On the other hand, author Brett McKay believes:

“Important tasks are things that contribute to our long-term mission, values and goals.”

So, thinking about your finances…

Things like retirement planning, insurance and college funds.

Do all your tasks need to be actioned?

When reading about computer programming, I came across an interesting quote:

“There is no code faster than no code.” – Kevlin Henney

In other words, there’s no faster way to get something done…

Than to eliminate it from your to-do list completely.

Including your financial to-do list.

It’s easy to lose our sense of what’s important in this ‘always-on’ world.

It’s called priority-blindness.

We are all many things.

I’m a CEO, father, husband and investor.

If I don’t prioritise my life, I run the risk of becoming too busy.

But not productive.

As Tim Ferriss puts it:

“Being busy is a form of laziness – lazy thinking and indiscriminate action.”

How can the Eisenhower Matrix help you achieve your goals?

In my experience, there are two questions that can help clarify the Eisenhower process.

  • What am I working toward?
  • What are the core values that drive my life?

As an investor, these are particularly important questions.

We are all on a journey towards an ultimate goal.

Make sure you’re spending your time, and money, wisely.

The Eisenhower Box isn’t perfect, but it helps put things into perspective.

If you want a more evidence-based approach to financial planning, get in touch with us.

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