How do you manage projects, especially after vacation?

Picture this: Wednesday morning. The day before, you were still on a long two-week vacation. You feel refreshed and kind of sad that it’s over. But looking forward to a productive day in the office. You enter the office room with a smile and catch up with some of your colleagues. And still on your mind is that today it will be a productive day. Until you checked your mails. In front of you, on the computer screen, you see a huge list of never ending emails which demand your attention.

Sounds familiar, isn’t it?

Being overwhelmed in today’s digital world is way too much of a familiar for many of us.

And we don’t even need to go to a vacation to feel like there is no way out.

Being a project manager and being in a full control all the time isn’t always easy. Each of us has only 24 hours to spend per day.

And being stressed is counter-productive.

A Better way

We still need to do our job done, but are all the tasks equal?

And here lays the secret to get our life back from the high-demanded work after the holidays.

The Tool

A powerful tool we can use is the Eisenhower Matrix.

It provides us with a visual way to priorities our tasks.

The four quadrants of the Eisenhower Matrix of productivity

Let’s dig deep in each of those quadrants.

Urgent and important tasks for your project

Those are the activities we must do as soon as possible. Think about paying your phone bill because tomorrow you won’t have a phone or even worse paying the internet bill because we will be left without a communication with the outside world.

If we have too many things labeled as urgent and important, this is a good indication that something in our planning isn’t working out and we let too many things to slip. In this case, we must re-visit our habits and try to find a system that can serve us better.

Another option could be that we still need to practice prioritisation in order to get a feeling about what is truly important, urgent and everything in between.

Not Urgent, but Important

This is the quadrant we should spend the most of our time.

Those are the tasks important to us and we must finish them timely. If we don’t do that, we risk those tasks to slip to the urgent and important quadrant.

Example of such tasks could study for an exam, or preparing your tax form, or talking with your boss early on for your ideas for a future promotion.

Urgent, not Important

That is the quadrant of delegation. During our day, week, month or even year, there will be many tasks that require our attention, but in the long run they are not important to us. Example of such tasks could research about a tool that could improve your project performance. It is urgent in this part of the project, but it may not be so important to you compare to everything else on your plate. Delegating to another team player is the key to success.

Not Urgent, not Important

We are literally surrounded by such tasks. Watching TV, spending time in social media, browsing Instagram or reading same news repeatedly.

Those are the things that don’t contribute to the quality of our life and projects, and the only possible solution for those tasks is to be discarded all together.

What’s next?

Create a list with everything you need to do in your project, your day/week or month.

A good approach is to dedicate a time block of 10 to 15 minutes and commit to write without stopping. It would surprise you, how many things are on your mind. After that use the tool and split the tasks in the 4 quadrants and decided on where you will work on the first 2 quadrants and to whom you will delegate the 3rd quadrant.

You already know what you must do with the not urgent and not important tasks :)


Aleks Vladimriov is a Senior Software Developer, recognized Project Manager and Soft-skilled trainer and a coach.

Aleks Vladimirov

Solution Engineering Manager at Thales | Senior IT Professional | Startup Mentor and Product Manager

Aleks is experienced Product Manager with an engineer background and over 10 years of experience as a software developer. He works with different governments and is responsible for negotiation features and requirements, understanding the customers’ needs and supporting the senior management with regular reports and analysis. He held various positions starting as a software developer, moving to a team leader and software architect.

He strives in waterfall and agile environment alike. He is certified Scrum Master and Prince2 Practitioner and he knows how to design business processes and help teams optimize their work.
During his tenure, he had to wear many hats, prioritizing business requirements, delegating work and mentoring team members, creating mockups with Balsamiq, providing MS Project plan to the senior management.

He had worked in many international teams, located in the same city or distributed in different countries and continents. He had been a team leader of cross functional international team of 8 people.

In his current position, he is very much client focused. He has excellent presentation skills.
He delivers training sessions on presentation skills and leadership and he had helped hundred of people to improve their presentation skills.

He is also interested in creating more positive changes in the workplace by using entrepreneurship skills.
He had won startup competition where his team had validated and develop a business idea from scratch.

In his free time, he writes in his blog about effective product development.

  1. […] Many people have way too many things on their “plate”. For those people useful tool they can apply is the so-called Eisenhower decision-making matrix. You can read more about it here: […]

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