The Eisenhower Matrix? Yes; I’m a fan. Big fan.
I’ve used that 2×2 matrix to get through some tricky transitions when aligning a team around priorities, shared decisions, and planning was critically important. In fact, I’ll probably be using that same matrix today, in my work-work, for all those reasons just listed.
What does the Eisenhower Matrix have to do with work-life balance?
Well, once upon a time, a younger version of me would have suggested that getting work tidied and prioritized, using this time-tested approach, was the key to keeping work from overwhelming “life,” as if life could ever have been something separate from itself.
Yes, a younger — and misguided — me was all about efficiency, effectiveness, and accomplishment at work. Younger me believed that a buttoned-up approach to working smart and hard was the rainbow path that led to a pot of gold in which “life” waited like the ultimate delayed gratification.
The balance, I thought, was one that leveled out over time.
I was wrong about that, of course, but not in the way you might be thinking.
Consider this idea:
What if that standard visual concept of work-life balance — a teeter-totter line balancing on a fulcrum — were instead a 2×2 grid. And what if the two opposing tensions weren’t “work” and “life,” with each of those words defined by some combination of time, activity and money, but instead were lines of relationship with self and relationship with others?
Here, a visual might help:
What if the tension between Independence (relationship with self, autonomy, self-actualization, skill mastery, accomplishment, ego, etc.) and Interdependence (relationship with others, shared commitment, teamwork, instruction, direction, etc.) got as much consideration as the exalted to-do list and decision-making matrix?
What if the feeling of being out of balance had little to do with activity or time and everything to do with the web of SELF and OTHERS?
If you’re a Covey follower (and you know I am), then this idea of independence-interdependence is likely as familiar as the Urgeng-Important matrix. Both ideas are central to Dr. Covey’s 7 Habits. Think that’s a boring, stale, out-of-date model? Hmmm. We’ll see about that.
Big enough idea for one day? I think so. Tomorrow we’ll Reassess.