This article expands on an original LinkedIn post by Ludek Stehlik, Ph.D., our People & Data Scientist.
Are you familiar with the Eisenhower Matrix? It’s a simple time management tool for prioritizing tasks based on a combination of their importance and urgency. The concept is also known as
the Urgent/Important Matrix, Time Management Matrix and the Eisenhower Method. The Eisenhower Matrix comes from the 34th President of the United States, Dwight D. Eisenhower, who was quoted saying,
"I have two kinds of problems, the urgent and the important. The urgent are not important, and the important are never urgent."
The Eisenhower Matrix method was popularized by Stephen Covey's bestseller, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
This is a sample Eisenhower Box taken from author Stephen Covey book, First Things First.
The matrix is separated into four quadrants based on types of tasks - important and urgent, important and not urgent, not important and urgent, not important and not urgent. Each of them offers a simple recommendation on what to do with them: do it, schedule it, delegate it, and delete it. By following these rules, people should be able to more successfully combat ‘The Mere-urgency Effect’, eliminate time-wasters in their lives, and create more space to make progress toward their goals.
“The Mere-urgency Effect describes our tendency to prioritize tasks we perceive as time-sensitive over tasks that aren't time-sensitive, even when the rewards of the non-time-sensitive task are objectively greater. In other words, urgency trumps importance every time.” - Doist, “The Mere Urgency Effect: "Sorry, I'm too busy for anything important right now"
Meet Time is Ltd.’s application of the Eisenhower Matrix for meetings
Something similar can be created for meetings, which are big time and money guzzlers and deserve to be treated accordingly. Only instead of the quadrants categorized by importance and urgency, we will use the size and length of meetings. The resulting matrix assumes four types of meetings with corresponding recommendations on what to do with them:
- Small & Short Meetings: These meetings are a bit tricky because they often involve useful meetings, e.g., short syncs of teams working on a specific task or project or one-on-one meetings between managers and their direct reports. However, when there are a lot of them, they may cause calendar fragmentation and reduce available focus time. To avoid this from happening, one can think of batching such meetings into larger blocks of two or three meetings with appropriate small breaks in between to avoid meeting fatigue and late arrivals.
- Small & Long Meetings: These meetings are great for brainstorming/collaborating, problem-solving, or decision-making. Make sure you use these meetings primarily for that purpose and don't waste them on low-value-added activities.
- Large & Short Meetings: These meetings often serve only to disseminate information and can therefore be safely replaced by less intrusive asynchronous collaboration tools such as email, instant messaging or some kind of knowledge management tool.
- Large & Long Meetings: These meetings are quite often a waste of people’s time as it doesn’t allow everyone to meaningfully contribute which can cause both physical and mentally exhaustion. Try to move these meetings into the third quadrant if your goal is simple information dissemination or into the second quadrant if the goal is to solve a particular problem or to make an important decision.
Time is Ltd.’s Meeting Matrix is by no means a panacea for meeting overload, but by following the rules above, employees will be empowered to protect their time more effectively so they can allocate more time for focused work. Additionally, this will make your meetings more efficient, meaningful, and valuable by themselves - and the company. Just be aware, that unlike the Eisenhower Matrix, in the case of the Meeting Matrix, employees need to rely more on their colleagues to follow these rules in order to create a positive impact on meeting culture.
If you’d like to understand your collaboration culture in more detail, and measure where your time is being allocated, get in touch today!