Productivity apps and methods are perhaps among the most abundant Mac apps out there, but they all take the same kind of approach to getting things done: they only help you accomplish tasks, without really lending a hand in choosing what’s really important. You can get a dozen tasks crossed off by the end of your day, but if they’re mundane and unimportant, what good is that?
Today we’ll be talking about an app called Eisenpower, that incorporates a method to help you prioritize and classify your tasks, in order to realize what’s really important and what isn’t. Interested?
Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Urgency Importance Matrix
Did you know 34th President of the United States Dwight D. Eisenhower had his own productivity method? I didn’t, so I was pretty interested to hear about it. Turns out he marked his tasks by importance and urgency, therefore arranging them into four categories comformed into a matrix, which are the following in order of importance:
- Urgent and Important: Tasks that need to be done right away and that hold relevancy. E.g. Paying urgent bills, delivering timely work.
- Important and Not Urgent: Tasks that could be done later, but that are vital. E.g. email, regular work.
- Urgent and Non-Important: Tasks that demand one’s attention but that might not be relevant to your goals. E.g. phone calls, notifications, etc.
- Not Urgent and Not Important: Everything else that isn’t relevant and does not require immediate attention. E.g. time-wasting work and distractions
“What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important”
President Eisenhower based his method around this quote, and it holds a lot of importance for anyone who wants to start using his matrix.
If we follow through with this quote, Urgent and Important tasks need doing as soon as possible, followed by the Important & Not Urgent tasks. Then we move on to Urgent and Non-Important tasks, which we should not really spend time on, but they do call for attention so it’s best to find an appropriate way to deal with them that does not hinge on our productivity. Lastly, just forget about the Non Important and Non Urgent tasks, your Facebook game invites can wait.
So the method caught your interest, but how can you start using it in your Mac? That’s where Eisenpower comes in. It’s a Mac app thought around this method, and the way it approaches it is quite simple and understandable.
Categories and Projects
Projects are the equivalent of a “notebook” or a “list” in other task managers. You can set different projects to keep unrelated tasks from colliding with each other. This way you can have a project for your work and another for things that need to be done at home.
Each project consists of four blocks, each representing a category in the method. By default these are named differently, in order to make tasks more organic and easy to classify. The categories are “Do First”, “Schedule”, “Delegate”, and “Really?!”. Some of those titles are a little misleading, depending on your take on what goes into each category, but they do a good job at explaining the method to a newcomer. If you’re already comfortable with the method, you can specify different labels for your categories in each project.
As each block is managed like a list, creating an item is easy and intuitive, you just have to select the category where your task will go in, double click it, and start typing its title. Then, you can just leave your tasks there up for completion, or you can interact with them. For example, if a task changes priority, it’s easy to drag them into another category.
There’s also integration with Reminders. You just have to press the bell button next to the title of your tasks to set a reminder with a date and hour, which will immediately be sent to your Reminders app and all of your iCloud synced devices under a previously specified reminders list. Speaking of iCloud, Eisenpower can keep track of all your tasks across multiple Macs. And if you’d like to share a task via email, Twitter, Facebook or iMessage, there’s also functionality for that.
Does It Work?
As always the answer is: it might, depending on how you work. The Eisenhower method is simple to understand, but not to maintain. Debating whether one task is important or urgent and all the other permutations can be demanding and confusing, making the method not as straight-forward at times.
The app Eisenpower is not exclusively bound to this method though, and you could use it to classify tasks in whatever priority you’d like. The ability to rename categories under each different project makes the app quite versatile, giving you the possility to use it as a regular task manager with double organization.
There’s something to the idea of doing only what’s necessary. I’ve heard before that at the beginning of your day you should mark the tasks that if completed, will make you feel succesful at the end of the day. Perhaps using this system to classify all of your daily tasks for a few weeks will help you identify easily what needs doing and which tasks are just mundane and a waste of time.
Eisenpower is a very simple app, and if you’re interested in following the Eisenhower method, it’ll do a fine job at helping you arrange your matrix in your computer. The app itself is quite versatile and it’ll work for more than just the one method. Features like Reminders integration, iCloud syncing and multiple project support make it quite robust, but it never feels overwhelming or complicated.
As far as the method goes, you need to decide what works for you and what doesn’t. Giving this one a try will at least help you realize which tasks in your workflow are important and which ones should be dropped, which is something that other productivity methods don’t even touch. Further than that, this method won’t really help you stay on track while doing those tasks. So if you feel that is something you need, then you might want to look elsewhere.
But what do you think? Have you used this method or any similar ones? Would you be interested in trying it?