Being a college student isn’t easy. However, the Eisenhower Matrix can help.
We rush to classes, complete multiple homework assignments per night, and fight to stay awake in lectures the next morning. When we allow ourselves the privilege of spending time with friends, thoughts of important responsibilities leave us feeling guilty.
It can be overwhelming.
This is why so many students across the nation battle with stress. An mtvU survey conducted in 2008 found that 80% of college students feel stress daily. What’s more, 13 percent had been diagnosed with mental health disorders such as anxiety or depression.
One great method of coping with that, “too much to do, too little time” feeling is adopting a method of time management that facilitates the decision of how you should be spending your time.
Meet The Eisenhower Matrix
This is where the Eisenhower Matrix comes into play. As denoted by the name, President Eisenhower developed this method of time management. This is how he balanced his responsibilities as the 34th president of the United States, a 5-star general, and the 1st Supreme Commander of NATO.
To keep himself focused and decide where to allocate his time and resources, Eisenhower divided his priorities into four quadrants.
- Critical and Do Now
- Critical, but Do Later
- Not Critical, but Do Now
- Not Critical, Do Later
While Eisenhower used this method to manage his presidential duties, it can be used by anyone, including students. Try dividing your responsibilities, both personal and academic, into the 4 quadrants.
Critical and “Do Now” Tasks
These tasks are of high importance, and demand your immediate attention.
- Study for tomorrow’s exam
- Buying your best friend a birthday present for his/her party this week
- Completing an online quiz due tonight at 5:00 PM
Critical, but Do Later
These are tasks that contribute to more long-term goals and advancement.
- Getting on a regular training schedule to make the club tennis team
- Choosing a topic for your end-of semester research paper
- Running for an elected position in your club, sorority, or religious group
Not Critical, but Do Now
Tasks like these can be confusing to deal with. The idea behind these tasks is that they should be delegated to other people; they are menial tasks that do not demand the skills you possess, and should be passed on. However, as students, we don’t have assistants.
The best thing to do with these tasks is deal with them when you don’t have the mental energy to work on things that are more important. This saves your best self for more critical work.
- Scheduling a dental cleaning
- Taking your formal dress to the dry cleaner
- Sending a quick thank-you email to your professor who just gave a test review session.
Not Critical, Do Later
You may be thinking, “but tasks in this quadrant will never get done”. This is exactly the point. By identifying which tasks do not need to be done, you free up more time for tasks and activities that mean more to you.
- Going to an acquaintance’s improv performance
- Watching 5 episodes of New Girl
- Color coding your closet
By organizing your priorities in a matrix like this, you can rest assured that you’re focused on the right things, whether trying out for a club sports team, planning your best friend’s birthday party, or studying for a test.
If you’re interested in this method of prioritization, check out Priority Matrix! This free app for iPhone and Android allows you to use the Eisenhower Matrix to manage your responsibilities.
Pro-tip: One thing that President Eisenhower didn’t realize is that not every task is simple and clear-cut. A task like “study for Chemistry” might look easy enough, when in reality you need to know what to study first or in what order you should go through the material.
We decided that in Priority Matrix, each task should have its own “matrix”. This allows you to keep track of each action item that needs to be done.
This way, you won’t forget each step and will successfully complete the entire task!