Thrive with the Eisenhower Matrix

When we’re juggling the responsibilities that life throws at us with no end in sight setting appointments, making meetings, and remembering to cook dinner on top of it allwe can get lost in our routines and forget to check on ourselves. One of the overarching themes of self-care is giving ourselves space and permission to check on our well-being from time to time. Not only does this feel refreshing in the moment, but it also gives us well-needed checks and balances so that we can evaluate if what we’re putting effort into aligns with our goals.

Thriving, not just Surviving

Aim for Thriving, not Surviving

Feeling like we have too much on our plate can throw us into survival mode, a fast-paced, errand-in, errand-out way of living where it feels like we’re constantly putting in effort just to keep our heads above water. Some days can feel like that even if on paper, we’re getting tasks done.

Thriving happens when our baseline well-being is checked on, and we take time to make sure we feel okay about the things we’re doing and effort we’re employing on our tasks. Taking pauses in our responsibilities and making sure what we’re doing aligns with our goals helps us feel grounded in our decisions and not overwhelmed or bitter with the work we have to do.

Different people use different methods for checking in on themselves and their goals throughout the day. Any kind of tool or system for self-regulation will help in this process, whether it’s a journal or a habit to reflect on your day each evening. One of the most helpful tools I like to employ to check on my day-to-day and go from surviving to thriving is the Eisenhower Matrix.

The Eisenhower Matrix

The Eisenhower Matrix: A great tool for planning and reflecting

The Eisenhower matrix is a planning and reflection tool that allows you to chunk up your tasks into four quadrants. First, decide if your tasks are either urgent or important. If they’re urgent and important, prioritize them (Do Quadrant). If they’re urgent but not important, delegate them. If they’re important but not urgent, schedule them in, and if they’re not urgent nor important, eliminate them.

I find that integrating this planner into my moments of reflection guides me through a pipeline that encourages me to remove clutter from my day, and ends up giving me more time to remove the annoyances that would otherwise overwhelm me. Add the use of this into your daily planning, morning meetings, or just keep the model in your head to assess your tasks throughout the day!

In a year like this one, and with no sign of life letting up with challenges, self-reflection is an integral tool we can use to check ourselves and our well-being. The basis of self-care lies in giving ourselves allowance to be kind to ourselves, and part of that is being understanding with our limits. Not everything has to be done now, or at all, and not everything has to be done by us, and a little bit of planning can give us tangible rewards that can get us from surviving — to thriving.

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Marissa Abram, PhD

Educator, Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner, Addiction Researcher and Founder of Strategic Wellness Management.