If you are struggling with task prioritization, an Eisenhower Matrix can help. This post teaches you what an Eisenhower Matrix is and how to use one to help you stay organized and focused on what is important.
“What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important.” -Dwight Eisenhower
What is an Eisenhower Matrix?
An Eisenhower Matrix is a method of organizing your tasks based off urgency and importance.
Urgent tasks are defined as time-sensitive.
Important tasks are those that help you accomplish your goals. We must constantly remind ourselves and ask if what we are working on is supporting our mission and our long-term plans.
The Eisenhower Matrix plots urgency and importance on a grid to give you 4 quadrants.
- Important and Urgent
- Important but Not Urgent
- Not Important but Urgent
- Not Important and Not Urgent
How Do I Use an Eisenhower Matrix?
Focus on the tasks that are important and urgent. (Box #1) Some productivity methods talk about having a “Top 3” for the day or “eating the frog” — picking the one task that is most important and doing that task first. Your daily focus tasks should be from Box #1.
Schedule the tasks that are important but not urgent. (Box #2) While these tasks will help you accomplish your long-term plans, you can schedule these at a time that is convenient and makes sense for you. Through scheduling and future planning, we can prevent tasks from this box from migrating into Box #1 when they become urgent. You could think of this as a box of “preventative maintenance.” If you schedule and take care of what’s important, it will never become a crisis.
Delegate the urgent but unimportant. (Box #3) These tasks are time sensitive and therefore must be done but do you have to do them? Is there someone else qualified? Can a secretary help you with some administrative work that has to get done? Can you direct your nagging colleague to someone else that can answer their questions? In my old job, I used to lose a significant amount of time to tactical, urgent work that was not helping me accomplish my goals. Try to delegate as many of these tasks as possible.
Avoid doing tasks that are neither urgent nor important. In life, these are activities such as mindlessly wasting time (TV, Social Media?). At work, these mostly come in the form of colleague requests. Try to avoid these tasks. If you are going to engage in relaxing tasks like mindlessly browsing the internet, try to set a timer to make sure it doesn’t get out of hand.
Hopefully this was a quick and easy overview of The Eisenhower Matrix and how to use one. The printable you can download below features a quick summary of the Eisenhower Matrix and a template to help organize your tasks!
To increase your productivity and organization, check out this post of professional gift ideas. For further reading on the Eisenhower Matrix, I recommend the related article from The Art of Manliness.
Note: If you are already subscribed to our newsletter, you will get an email saying you have updated your profile. You can ignore this email. 🙂
If you thought this post was useful, don’t forget to share!