Parenting Tips from the Supreme Commander

Being the primary parent at home, it falls on me to manage the day to day stuff like laundry, dishes and meals, and cleaning up.  Since I’m also the handyman of the house, things like cleaning the garage, fixing the swingset and building a new coffee table also land on my to-do list.  All these tasks on their own would be a joy and delight to work my way through, however there is an insidious enemy determined to foil my attempts at success at nearly every turn:  My Kids.

They are a well equipped, well supplied, highly trained enemy force, hell bent on a complete occupation of every last bit of whatever time and space I have to get down to the business of completing my chores.  In times like this I turn to the guy who, before leading the free world, had one of the raddest and most leadership inspiring titles in recent military history:

General Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force:

For those of you who aren’t completely brushed up on their modern history, Dwight D. Eisenhower was kind of a big deal.  I’ll spare you the history lesson, but a few notable items on his resume include Supreme Commander during the invasion of Normandy and subsequent invasion of Europe and Germany, and 35th President of The United States of America. Certainly a guy knew a thing or two about getting things done.  He invented an ingenious system for organizing himself which is now come to be know in organizational circles as The Eisenhower Matrix, and it looks like this:

This is a shorthand way to break up everything you will encounter in a day into easily manageable chunks.  For example, answering the phone is urgent (because it’s ringing) but not important (because they will leave a message or call back – you can handle it on your time, not the callers) so that would be filed into the lower right box.  Sorting out your taxes is important (you definitely need to do it) but not urgent (it’s all there, and you know when it’s due… but it’s more like an abstract concept you’d rather procrastinate on) So that would go into the upper left.

How would you apply this as the Supreme Commander of your own tiny army?  Cleaning the garage (at least in the eyes of my beautiful wife) is important AND urgent.  For me, it’s important, but definitely not urgent, so it goes up in the top left.  My daughter has a fever? definitely top right material.  very important to deal with immediately.

So with a little planning and a simple graph to plot your course, you too can get a grip on even the most unwieldy task load.

Tyler McTaggart, DCL member