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I often feel overwhelmed by the amount of tasks that I need to do in my business. As an entrepreneur, it happens a lot. When you are doing things on your own, everything becomes your priority. Google up the solution on how to prioritise your tasks and you’ll find the Eisenhower Matrix being mentioned often.

In a previous article, however, I highlighted a flaw in the Matrix (good job, Neo!): the Eisenhower Matrix oversimplifies the complexity of urgent-important tasks. As an entrepreneur, you will have to make decisions on priorities, often based on available resource of time, money and knowledge. Entrepreneurs thrive on feeling productive. That can only happen when everything falls in place, but dealing with multiple important-urgent priorities at once is crippling.

Introducing The Eisenhower Matrix Alternative

Because of my own personal experience in dealing with tasks that can be too complex for me to take on, I have created my own set of task measuring tool called the Priority-Complexity Model. It is a Venn diagram that allows you to rate the priority of a task from three factors: Importance, Urgency and Complexity. Simply put, it is an Eissenhower Matrix with an added arm; it helps you prioritise things that you can and should take action immediately, rather than on things that are merely deemed “important” and “urgent”. That keeps you productive, hence motivating you to keep moving on to the next challenge and the next.

The model is made up of three main sections and four subsections:

Main Categories

  • Urgent

Tasks that are time sensitive, but not necessarily important nor complex to do. Often these task has perceived but may not be actual importance. REVIEW such tasks to see if it actually offers real benefit for it to be addressed.

  • Complex

Tasks that generally require more thought process and time, resources (eg money) or knowledge, experience and/or skill to perform. They are however not necessarily important nor urgent. Consider REMOVING such tasks as they often time and resource wasting.

  • Important

The real “to-do” list. These are task that the businesses need to get done in order to experience real growth. They are part of the culture that defines the business. In short, it what makes the business ticks. Set a ROUTINE standard to follow.

Sub-Categories

  • Unproductive

Urgent + Complex tasks. They can still be important enough to pay attention to, but not important enough to put too much energy and resources into. Best way to handle such a task is DELEGATE or outsource.

  • Priority

An urgent task becomes a priority when it becomes crucially important for the organisation to handle in order to seize growth opportunity or prevent crisis. TAKE CHARGE of the situation and address it immediately.

  • Strategic

Tasks that benefits the organisation but are too complex to be tackled immediately. PLAN a strategic and executable timeline for it.

  • Crisis

Probably the worst kind of tasks. Crisis happens from lack of planning, or from not taking early action on non-urgent but important issues. Crisis often resulted from accumulation of unnecessary problems, and can cause implosion in the business. It can only be settled when you face it with the purpose of change. REVIEW crisis situations with the purpose of improving productivity, managing challenges and minimising resources in the future.

How to Use the Priority-Complexity Model

Prioritising your business needs according to the Priority-Complexity Model takes a few steps:

  1. List down all the things you need to do for your business on a piece of paper. It doesn’t whether it is small or big, urgent or non urgent. Make sure you write down everything you plan or want to do. And I do mean EVERYTHING.
  2. Categorise them according to the listed categories:
    • Urgent (Needs to be done asap)
    • Complex (Needs skill set, time or money you don’t have right now)
    • Important (Benefits your business significantly when done)
    • Unproductive = Urgent + Complex
    • Priority = Urgent + Important
    • Strategic = Complex + Important
    • Crisis = Urgent + Important + Complex
  3. For tasks that fall under the “Important” categories:
    • Decide of solution
    • Decide on timeline
    • Assign a leader (if in a team)
    • List resources needed to get the tasks done
  4. For tasks that fall under the “Non-Important” categories:
    • Ask yourself whether it’s worth pursuing a solution for (Increase revenue/Reduce time/Required by Law?)
    • Decide of solution
    • Decide on timeline
    • Assign a leader (if in a team)
  5. For tasks that fall under the “Crisis” category:
    • Decide of solution
    • Decide on timeline
    • Assign a leader (if in a team)
    • Take notes for an after action review session

You can take a look at a sample workplate that I have done below (click to see a larger image):

Prioritise Your Tasks Today!

Not only is the Priority-Complexity Model applicable for business, it is applicable for just about everything that has multiple layers of complexity. I even tried it on budgeting my own family’s personal finance, and it works like a charm! The point is that the factors listed is applicable to real life situations, and can give a lot of clarity in handling an overwhelming amount of tasks and decision making. It is now a quintessential part of my business and I really hope it is helpful to you too.

By the way, this Priority-Complexity Model is part of my Strategic Business Plan Template will soon be available for purchase. If you find this useful for your business, imagine what the full template can do for you! It will you costs no more than small burger, so head on over to the download page to grab it.

Armen Rizal Rahman

Founder/Creative Management

Armen has over a decade worth of experience in the creative industry. He is a xennial who prefers PCs over Macs and is both tech savvy and tech phobic. He hates being called the “IT Guy”.
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