Defining balance and setting priorities are two sides of the same coin when it comes to productivity. Learn how to use the Eisenhower matrix to streamline—and even reduce—your to-do list.

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The only way I can accomplish everything on my to-do list each day is by knowing what my wants and needs are and knowing how each task helps me to achieve balance in my life.

Defining Balance

The word “balance” can be so divisive because it is often interpreted as meaning all areas of your life should be equal. Just like there is no one recipe that objectively tastes best, balance can be achieved in many ways. Balance is a feeling, not a concrete measurement, and my definition is one of inclusivity with plenty of room for individuality.

Routines for Productivity

The best routines are the ones that works for you and support your personal goals. As long as your basic needs are being met, you have the freedom to experiment and define balance for yourself.

This is going to sound counterintuitive… Productive procrastinating is my favorite pastime because it allows me to feel like I’m resting and refueling while checking items off my to-do list. Productive procrastinating is basically “going with the flow” and not judging myself for placing self-care items like reading and manicures at the top of my priority list. Don’t be afraid to experiment—event if your idea is non-traditional!

A Week in the Life

Are you still unsure how to add balance into your routines? This is what my typical week includes.

  • Weekday daytime (9-5): traditional job
  • Weekday evening (5-9): engage body (exercise) and rest mind (Monday/Wednesday/Friday) or engage mind (D20 Theory projects or practice creativity) and rest body (Tuesday/Thursday)
  • Weekend: 1/3 personal tasks, 1/3 D20 Theory projects, and 1/3 relaxation and fun
  • 30 minutes per day: foster meaningful connections (call parents, walk/TV/date/board game with my husband, or girls’ night)
  • Twice per week: practice creativity (crafts, try a new recipe, or gardening)
  • Once per month: use PTO for half self-care and half D20 Theory projects

Setting Priorities

The Eisenhower matrix is a popular tool for identifying priorities.

Eisenhower matrix

The matrix is divided into four quadrants. Each task is categorized as either “urgent and important,” “not urgent and important,” “urgent and not important,” or “not urgent and not important.”

Do First

Tasks that are both urgent and important should be placed at the top of the priority list.

For example, the water heater just broke and you’re the only one home. Get that fixed ASAP!


Tasks that are not urgent but are important should be scheduled for later.

For example, set aside time later in the week to go grocery shopping if you’re a coupon-clipping, brand-specific, aisle-by-aisle systematic shopper like I am and you have trouble delegating this task to others.


Tasks that are urgent but less important should be delegated.

For example, ask your partner to pick up the dry cleaning or do the grocery shopping—if you’re less of a control freak about meal planning than I am. Allow someone you trust to handle tasks that are time sensitive but don’t necessarily require you to complete the task yourself.


Tasks that are neither urgent nor important should be deleted from the list.

For example, you responded “interested” on Facebook to a flea market that you really don’t care to attend. It won’t be enjoyable, and it’s definitely not urgent, so you can delete it to clear some space on your schedule.

defining balance and setting priorities

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