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The Eisenhower Matrix

The Eisenhower Matrix

The Eisenhower Matrix, also referred to as Urgent-Important Matrix, helps you decide on and prioritize tasks by urgency and importance, sorting out less urgent and important tasks which you should either delegate or not do at all.


Where does the name come from?

Dwight D. Eisenhower was the 34th President of the United States from 1953 until 1961. Before becoming President, he served as a general in the United States Army and as the Allied Forces Supreme Commander during World War II. He also later became NATO’s first supreme commander.

Dwight had to continuously make tough decisions about which of the many tasks he should focus on daily. This finally led him to invent the world-famous Eisenhower principle, which today helps us prioritize by urgency and importance.

How to use the Eisenhower Matrix?

Prioritizing tasks by urgency and importance results in 4 quadrants with different work strategies:

  1. We call the first quadrant Do first as its tasks are important for your life and career and need to be done today or tomorrow at the latest. You could use a timer to help you concentrate while completing as much of them as possible.
    An example of this type of task could be to review an important document for your manager.
  2. The second quadrant we call Decide/Schedule. Its tasks are important but less urgent. You should list tasks you need to put in your calendar here.
    An example of that could be a long-planned restart of your gym activity.
    Professional time managers leave fewer things unplanned and therefore try to manage most of their work in the second quadrant, reducing stress by terminating urgent and important to-dos to a reasonable date in the near future whenever a new task comes in.
  3. The third quadrant is for those tasks you could Delegate as they are less important to you than others but still pretty urgent. You should keep track of delegated tasks by e-mail, telephone, or within a meeting to check back on their progress later.
    An example of a delegated task could be somebody calling you for an urgent favor or requesting that you step into a meeting. You could delegate this responsibility by suggesting a better person for the job or by giving the caller the necessary information to have him deal with the matter himself.
  4. The fourth and last quadrant is called Delete because it is there to help you sort out things you should not be doing at all.

The Eisenhower Matrix

Using this matrix makes it easier to decide to prioritize any task in your life or on any project.



Dwight D. Eisenhower

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