What is Eisenhower Matrix?
- The Eisenhower Matrix is a task management tool that helps you organize and prioritize tasks by urgency and importance.
- Using the tool, you’ll divide your tasks into four boxes based on the tasks you’ll do first, the tasks you’ll schedule for later, the tasks you’ll delegate, and the tasks you’ll delete.
- In this piece, we’ll explain how to set up an Eisenhower Matrix and provide tips for task prioritization.
- The Eisenhower matrix, also known as the Urgent-important matrix, is a tool that helps you improve your task prioritization skills.
By incorporating the Eisenhower matrix into your daily life, you learn to recognize your biggest priorities and differentiate between those that have a long-term impact from those that don’t.
The Eisenhower matrix is a perfect ally when it comes to understanding how to think in quadrants, as it ‘divides your brain’ and helps you distinguish between:
- Quadrant number #1 — Important/urgent tasks,
- Quadrant number #2 — Important/non-urgent tasks,
- Quadrant number #3 — Unimportant/urgent tasks, and
- Quadrant number #4 — Unimportant/non-urgent tasks.
A brief history of the Eisenhower matrix
- It was Dwight D. Eisenhower who first developed and used the said time and task management method.
- Eisenhower was the 34th president of the United States who was in search of a method that would help him prioritize and make tough decisions regarding his numerous tasks.
Elements of Eisenhower Matrix
- As an easily workable task management tool, the Eisenhower matrix helps you prioritize your tasks by putting them in the right quadrants.
- That may be something urgent/important (“do it now” quadrant), something trivial but still urgent (“delegate it to someone else” quadrant), etc.
- When you are able to categorize your tasks like this, it becomes much easier for you to schedule and complete them.
- Take a look at the following section that’ll help you understand how those quadrants work in practice.
“I have two kinds of problems: the urgent and the important. The urgent are not important, and the important are never urgent.”Dwight D. Eisenhower
The difference between URGENT and IMPORTANT tasks
- Urgent tasks need to be dealt with as soon as possible. They are time-sensitive and sometimes stressful, as they need our immediate attention.
- Important tasks, on the other hand, allow you to take a step back, analyze your situation, and plan your next move. They’re not time-sensitive, so there is no pressure when completing such tasks.
Quadrant #1: “Do” – Important and urgent tasks
- Tasks with a very close deadline — Finishing a client project, putting out a small fire, a burst pipe.
- Tasks you can’t postpone — Something you’ve been putting off and now you’re in a rush to finish it (meeting your deadline, for instance).
- Last-minute obligations — Family or work obligations, unannounced visitors.
Quadrant #2: “Decide” – Important but not urgent tasks
- Short-term or long-term business goals — creating a business budget, creating a sales forecast, planning a new marketing campaign, etc.
- Career goals — getting a promotion, shifting into a new career path, gaining a new skill set, planning to start a business, etc.
- Personal goals — improving relationships, starting a family, recreation, healthy eating, etc.
Quadrant #3: “Delegate” – Urgent but not important tasks
- Work-related issues — setting up meetings, answering emails, scheduling certain appointments.
- Household obligations — grocery shopping, house chores, paying the bills, etc.
Quadrant #4: “Eliminate” – Unimportant and not urgent tasks
- Time wasters — Checking (spending time on) social media, unimportant emails or meetings, etc.
- Pleasant activities only — While rest is important, too many fun activities can have a counter-effect. Some of them need to be eliminated to leave room for important activities. Such activities include taking long breaks from work, playing games, scrolling through social media, etc.
What makes the Eisenhower matrix different from other techniques?
The Eisenhower matrix will help you:
- Understand your goals better,
- Identify time-wasting activities, and most importantly
- Learn how to prioritize your work and everyday tasks.
That way, you can schedule and plan better for the future.
Summary – How to be More Productive?
- More and more coaches and productivity experts advise learning how to manage your priorities and resources.
- We can’t make more time — but we can use it smarter. So instead of trying to cram as many tasks as possible in a day, try prioritizing those that matter — the ones that work towards your self-improvement and progress.
- The Eisenhower time management matrix is an excellent teacher in that regard.
- And while it may not work for all, it’s a great stepping stone towards finding a more personalized, better-suited technique.