Table of Contents Hide
- What is the Eisenhower Matrix?
- What do the 4 boxes in the Eisenhower Matrix represent?
- The difference between urgent and important tasks
- How to use the Eisenhower time management matrix in your daily life?
- Which is the best quadrant to work on?
A to-do list is an excellent tool to get things done. But, not all of the tasks are worthwhile to spend time on. Many of them can be delegated or even deleted. You need to sort out these tasks before you start doing things from the to-do list. To distinguish them, you can use the Eisenhower time management matrix. A handy time management technique for high achievers.
In this article, you will get a brief idea of the Eisenhower Matrix and how you can apply this in your life to get high-impact things done that matter to you the most.
What is the Eisenhower Matrix?
The Eisenhower Matrix is a popular time management technique that offers a framework to prioritize tasks based on importance and urgency.
Dwight D. Eisenhower, a five-star general during World War II and the 34th President of the United States, developed this concept. He used it to prioritize tasks and deal with high-stakes issues in this service. D. Eisenhower was well-known for his high output and organization. His prioritization technique reveals how he used to manage his workload and priorities.
Later the method was popularized by Stephen Covey when he introduced this method in his best-selling book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. As the concept originated from Dwight D. Eisenhower, it got its name as the Eisenhower Matrix. The matrix is also known as the Urgent-Important Matrix, The Eisenhower Box, Time Management Matrix, and The Eisenhower Method.
The tool includes four boxes – Do, schedule, delegate and delete. You need to organize tasks in these four boxes and do them based on their importance.
What do the 4 boxes in the Eisenhower Matrix represent?
The four boxes of the matrix are labeled as four quadrants. Here is the breakdown of each quadrant to help you decide which tasks to go in which section.
- Quadrant – 1 Do (Urgent + Important): Tasks that need to be completed immediately. Emergencies, deadlines, and last-minute requests are some example tasks of this quadrant. However, the majority of us remain busy doing things out of this box.
- Quadrant – 2 Schedule (Not Urgent + Important): Tasks that you can prioritize and schedule to tackle later. In this quadrant, you are not doing urgent tasks but important ones that will help you achieve your goal and avoid the last-minute rush. Some instances are exercise, deep work, and planning. Although these tasks are not urgent but are helpful for your career growth and personal wellbeing.
- Quadrant – 3 Delegate (Urgent + Not important): Urgent but menial tasks fall in this quadrant. These tasks often keep you busy and interrupt you from doing high-impact tasks. You can delegate these tasks to someone. Responding to emails, phone calls, uploading a blog post, and meal preparation are some instances of this quadrant. Although these tasks give you the illusion of busyness, you are actually getting fewer things accomplished for your long-term goal.
- Quadrant – 4 Delete (Not Important + Not Urgent): These are the random tasks we do in our everyday life. They are not urgent and essential either. For example, unnecessary use of social media, watching TV, and planning video games. These are simply distracting and hindering you from reaching your long-term goal. Also, they are a waste of time and decrease your productivity.
The difference between urgent and important tasks
You should put your tasks into the four quadrants based on their urgency and importance. However, it is also necessary to understand the difference between importance and urgency. Urgent tasks are time sensitive and need your immediate attention and action. On the other hand, important tasks are essential for your long-term goal. When you put tasks in their right boxes, you can schedule the most important things first to do.
How to use the Eisenhower time management matrix in your daily life?
The Eisenhower Matrix can be implemented in every aspect of your daily life, regardless of your personal and professional life.
If you are a student, the matrix can help you identify time-wasting activities, which goes to quadrant 4 (delete). You are unaware of these activities before putting them in that quadrant.
The Eisenhower matrix is also helpful for working professionals. When you put your tasks in the Eisenhower quadrant, you will identify the activities that can be delegated as these tasks go to quadrant 3 (delegate).
The fundamental of this matrix is to focus on quadrant 2 (schedule), which Covey named Quadrant of Quality. Tasks of this quadrant are related to a long-term goal and personal wellbeing.
However, you should execute quadrant one (Do) activities first because they are time sensitive and need your immediate action. When you schedule Q2 tasks properly, you can limit the list of urgent tasks because you have fewer things to do in Q1.
3 Steps to apply Eisenhower Matrix
How can you implement the Eisenhower time management matrix to prioritize tasks? Here are the steps to follow:
- Have a to-do list: A to-do list is the first step toward getting things done. Every day you have different things to do. Also, you get requests for work from your colleagues and relatives. It is a bit difficult to keep them all in mind. Therefore, a to-do list is handy as it relieves your brain from memorizing the things to do. In addition, the first step in implementing the Eisenhower time management matrix is to keep a to-do list and write down the obligations and random tasks you need to do.
- Categorize the tasks: From the list of tasks, categorize them based on urgency and importance and assign them to the four quadrants. When you analyze the to-do list and classify the works according to Eisenhower quadrants, you will find that many of them can be delegated or even deleted. Eventually, you will have fewer things to do in quadrants one and two, Also, you will get more time to tackle urgent and essential tasks.
- Schedule: Prioritization helps you to determine which task to tackle first. After sorting out unnecessary and less important tasks, you will have a list of essential tasks that need your utmost attention. It is time to put them in your calendar and routine. If the due date of any assignment is closer, schedule to get them done as early as possible. Put these tasks in quadrant one and schedule them in your calendar.
Also, organize your day for the things that are related to your career growth. For example, enrolling in a professional course and attending a seminar. However, don’t forget about your personal wellbeing. Put physical exercise and meditation into your daily routine.
3 Tips to utilize Eisenhower Matrix
Simply classifying the things is not enough to utilize the Eisenhower Matrix with full potency. Here are a few things to follow to use this technique for better time management.
- Have color code: Assign particular colors for each section. It will help you to get a quick view of the activities for each quadrant.
- Limit the number of items: Having too many tasks in each box will overcomplicate the process, and the purpose of using the matrix will be pointless. Therefore, limit up to 8 actions in each quadrant.
- Eliminate first: To effectively prioritize, eliminate unnecessary tasks first. By going through the elimination process, you are identifying quadrant-four activities first. Consequently, you will have fewer things to put in the other three quadrants, and your prioritization process will be quicker.
After you develop a system to organize your to-do list, update the matrix and review the progress of your work regularly. It depends from person to person on how and when to work on the Eisenhower Matrix. You may find it helpful to start your day by glancing at your priority matrix. And reflect and update the quadrants at the end of the day. However, avoid overthinking. Also, spending too much time on it or making it complicated. Allocate five to ten minutes in the morning and evening to work on it.
Which is the best quadrant to work on?
Q2 (Schedule) is the best quadrant to work on among the four quadrants. While the Q1 (Do) section includes time-sensitive tasks, Q2 comprises the activities that help achieve professional goals and improve personal life. Also, you can avoid unforeseen problems and urgency traps by completing the work of this section on time.
People who are productive and successful spend more time doing the tasks of this quadrant. Covey named it a quality quadrant.
While a to-do list is a must-have tool for every person, a goal-oriented person needs to prioritize tasks from the to-do list. You can free up more time in a day if you focus on the things that matter to you most. The Eisenhower Matrix will help you eliminate non-essential tasks from your to-do list and prioritize high-impact tasks.