What is the Eisenhower Matrix? Easily Prioritize Tasks and Boost Productivity

What is the Eisenhower Matrix? Easily Prioritize Tasks and Boost Productivity

What is the Eisenhower method?

The Eisenhower matrix provides a way to organize responsibilities according to how urgent they are and their relevancy. You can split up tasks into four separate categories.

The Eisenhower Matrix is mean to help you manage your time and prioritize tasks based on task urgency and importance.

The four quadrants, which we will go into more detail later, are created by created 2 axis' with one being importance and the other urgency.

This will create 4 quadrants:

  1. Quadrant 1: Urgent and important tasks
  2. Quadrant 2: Important but not urgent tasks
  3. Quadrant 3: Not important and urgent
  4. Quadrant 4: Not important and not urgent

You will then go through all your tasks and assign them to a quadrant. Once assigned, you can figure out which tasks need to be worked on and how.

color coding urgent tasks for immediate attention eisenhower box matrix

Who created the Eisenhower Matrix?

The person credited in creating this time management concept, Dwight D. Eisenhower, is an extremely decorated individual. Not only is he the 34th president with two consecutive terms and is a five-star army general whose rank surpassed five-star rank.

Oh, and was there a mention about his introduction to DARCA? The company that eventually created the Internet. (Thanks Eisenhower.) It takes a tremendous amount of discipline to do something.

What are the four quadrants of the Eisenhower matrix?

We will now learn what makes urgent work a priority and discuss how we can prioritize a list based upon the Eisenhower matrix.

In his task Eisenhower began to examine its effectiveness. Ticking off 10 unimportant tasks on your list gives you a sense that you are working, and in fact completing a major urgent project may actually give you more return.

The top row is going to be the row you focus on the most. The bottom row show the items that require the least amount of your effort.

First, we have urgent and important tasks. These get your main focus and require your immediate attention. Complete them immediately and urgently.

Next, you have not urgent and important, these don't have a fixed deadline but they'll still bring your closer to your long term goals. This need some sort of action but not right now. Schedule them for later.

On the bottom row, our first quadrant is the urgent but not important tasks. These items need to get done now but they aren't important so for these, you want to delegate them to someone else to do.

Finally, we have not urgent and not important. With these, it's simple, just delete them off your list. They do not help you achieve your long term goals and will only distract you.

Limit the number of items per quadrant

The addition of many different items can make things overly complicated. For maximum results, limit the number of tasks to 10 per quadrant.

You don't want to overwhelm yourself and you can always go back to add more tasks as you complete them.

Give color codes to quadrants

This is a great way to make your eisenhower matrix more effective and easy to use. You can assign colored codes to the quadrants for easy comprehension.

By selecting colors the user can see the next steps for each project. These colorcodes can help with establishing the order of tasks in a timely fashion for better decisions.

Categorize Your Professional and Personal To-dos

For avoiding excessive obligations, you may have two matrices - professional and personal. It helps to stay clear and influence how you manage time. It may work to give different hours for both kinds of work.

blank urgent important matrix for long term goals

How to rebalance your quadrants?

Stephen Covey said quadrant 2 is a "Quadrant of Quality" in which time spent on tasks increases effectiveness overall.

Ideally, you want to spend time in quadrants 1 and 2 vs. quadrants 3 and 4. Keeping track of how much time you spend on tasks in each quadrant will help you reassess your time management.

Quadrant 4 should get little to no time. Avoid any time in this quadrant.

If you're spending time in quadrant 3, this could be another sign of poor time management. It's understandable to work on some of these tasks yourself but typically, you want to find someone else to do these.

It's ok to spend time on tasks that are in quadrant 2 but if it is taking away from quadrant 1 items, you might need to make changes.

As you can see, it's all amount making sure you're spending time on the right tasks, this will boost your productivity. Periodically review your schedule and see how much time you spend in each of the quadrants.

The Mere-Urgency Effect

How can one determine what task is worth focusing on? Recent research published by the Journal of Consumer Research examined how people choose tasks that have mixed urgency.

Researchers observed a peculiar pattern over five different studies — they emphasize time-sensitive tasks instead of tasks that are less urgent despite their less urgent tasks having higher rewards.

This mental flaw called "the mere urgency effect" is how people do things.

The eisenhower matrix is an excellent tool to deal with this. Since you are taking the time to write down and organize every task or project that needs to be worked on, you'll be able to avoid the "mere urgency effect".

Tell me the history of Eisenhower Matrix?

The Eisenhower matrix, also known as the Urgent Important matrix was actually started by President of the United States of America.

Using it, President Dwight D. Eisenhower helped prioritize and address the numerous high-stake issues he faced as a U.S. army general, then in NATO and finally in his presidency.

In "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People", writer Stephen Covey popularized Eisenhower's principles. The Eisenhower matrix has become a well-known time management system for business.

How to distinguish between urgent and important tasks?

Urgent and important might seem like similar words but when examining the Eisenhower principle they have significant differences.

As we mentioned above, the mere urgency effect often misleads people into what tasks they should work on. When you're looking at the matrix and deciding what quadrants to put tasks in, you have to think about the importance and urgency.

Typically you have long term goals that you're working towards. When it comes to important tasks, how important is the task to your long term goals? Not very? Ok, that task is labeled as not important.

Not every important task is urgent and not every urgent task is important. Some examples of urgent but not important tasks might be answering calls or emails, or a co-worker asking for work related advice.

Does Boss Personal Planner use the Eisenhower matrix?

Yes! Many of our personal planners, digital, printable, and paper planners, have the Eisenhower matrix.

It's such an effective tool that we include it in most of our planners. From our original paper planners, to our most popular digital planner, you get a copy of the Eisenhower matrix to use.

It's one of the many examples of productivity tools that we like to include to making your planning effective.

Eisenhower matrix for decision making and task management

Eisenhower Matrix final thoughts

If you're looking for a new task management tool, the Eisenhower matrix is one of the best.

It is often overlooked or not talked about but the Eisenhower matrix can help you organize tasks and help you reach your long term goals faster.

You'll quickly increase your productivity by organizing your tasks based on what is important and time sensitive.

Using the Eisenhower matrix will give you a clear understanding of what is important and needs to go on your schedule now vs what is not important or urgent and you can delegate or delete completely.

Increasing your productivity is about find tools and tips that help you optimize your time. The Eisenhower Matrix is one of the best ways to do this and requires very little effort to plan but it will eliminate dozens of hours of work for you each month.

TL:DR Eisenhower Matrix

The Eisenhower matrix is a productivity tool that helps you prioritize all of your tasks and projects based on the urgency and importance.

By creating a grid template, you have 4 quadrants that allow you to sort your tasks. The 4 quadrants are

  1. Important and urgent tasks
  2. Not important and urgent
  3. Important and not urgent
  4. Not important and not urgent tasks

Once you sort our your tasks, you can schedule and delegate all the projects and tasks.

  1. Quadrant 1: These require immediate attention, do them now.
  2. Quadrant 2: These are urgent but not important tasks, schedule them for later.
  3. Quadrant 3: You should delegate these tasks to someone else because they are important but not urgent tasks.
  4. Quadrant 4: Since these are not important or urgent, look to eliminate these tasks to avoid wasting time.

With the Eisenhower matrix, you are able to quickly sort out tasks and organize them so you can be as efficient as possible. It can be used for both professional and personal tasks or projects and it is an easy to follow task management tool.

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