The Eisenhower matrix
How to prioritise tasks and be more productive
Have you been struggling to keep up with all the tasks you have to do? Getting behind on work? Or finding it hard to juggle life? Well let’s not sweat the small stuff as we’ve learnt a little trick that can help you solve these problems.
The Eisenhower matrix is most known from its creator Dwight David "Ike" Eisenhower who was an American army general and then became the 34th president of the United States. So as you can probably imagine he would of felt a lot of pressure to succeed and had to prioritise work accordingly. This method has also been named the important-urgent matrix and has been said to be used by many high achievers including Elon musk the creator of Tesla, spaceX and much more. So what is this life saving trick and how does it work is what you might be asking? Well that’s what we’re about to tell you.
The Eisenhower matrix is a way of prioritising tasks into 4 categories which can be used to organise your day, week, month or year these are based upon the 2 contributors of how and why we get work done. The sections are:
1. Urgent and important (tasks you will do immediately). These tasks should usually be completed by the end of the day.
2. Important, but not urgent (tasks you will schedule to do later). Don’t just leave these tasks to rot away, it is best to schedule a date for when you will move them to section 1. This is probably the biggest section you need to focus on as if we can avoid section 1. Where tasks are both urgent and important we can relieve pressure and enter a state of flow
3. Urgent, but not important (tasks you will delegate to someone else). This section is where you can outsource tasks if you don’t need to be present or if your time would be better spent elsewhere. Elon musk and Henry Ford was big advocates of this as they have learnt that we are not always the cleverest person in the room at a specific topic and our tasks are to focus on the long term goals
4. Neither urgent nor important (tasks that you will eliminate). Why put something on your to do list just to tick it off. There’s no point. And there’s no point in not eliminating tasks that are not urgent and important. So don’t do it!
After setting out this grid think of all of your tasks and to do list and place each job in the correct section of the grid. To help you can ask yourself questions like “why will this help me in the future"
Bonus tip. If you notice that a few tasks can be done at the time or you are going to a place where another task needs sorting out you can batch these together and get 2 jobs done at the same time.
The difference between urgent and important. Urgent tasks could be things like phone calls, emails etc. Important is the stuff that contributes to the long term goal, your mission, life.
It can be hard to prioritise work all the time as we have adapt to life being ever changing however having this grid as a basis helps us to quickly file the tasks into appropriate sections.