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Eisenhower Matrix (Task Management)

Eisenhower Matrix (Task Management)

Download the “Eisenhower Matrix”  to be more productive and eliminate time wasting activities. Be sure to make copies and use as needed. 


What is the Eisenhower Matrix?


Back in 1989, author Stephen Covey published The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, popularising the techniques of the 34th President of the United States, Dwight D. Eisenhower. This now widely-used technique, the Eisenhower Matrix, draws on all Eisenhower’s methods for time management, task management, decision-making and productivity that enabled him to live his unbelievably productive life.


At its core, the Matrix is all about changing your mindset and recognising the difference between “urgent” and “important”. In the words of Eisenhower himself, “what is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important.” Figuring out the difference allows you to compartmentalise your thoughts, giving you guilt-free permission to focus on what really matters and eliminate anything that won’t positively contribute to your goals.

Ignoring your important tasks in favour of the more urgent, putting-out-fire type of tasks will usually leave you feeling exhausted and unaccomplished at the end of the day.


What is the difference between important and urgent tasks?


What is important is such a loaded question as it’s different to each of us. It’s the important tasks that ultimately help us achieve our goals, making it essential to take a step back and figure out whatever that may be. Important issues tend to be the ones that promote real growth and contribute to the bigger picture but often aren’t time-sensitive. These may be to do with your own life goals, core values or the long-term growth of the business.

Urgent tasks, while it may seem self-explanatory, is often where many of us trip up by determining everything is urgent when in reality it isn’t. Urgent tasks need immediate attention, they’re time-sensitive and often time-consuming. This may also include meetings and phone calls. If a task needs completing today or tomorrow, it’s urgent, but if it can be delayed, it’s simply not. If a task can be completed by another member of the team, it’s not urgent for you.

It’s important to note that many urgent tasks can actually be avoided by prioritising important tasks earlier on.


How to use the matrix


As you can imagine, urgent tasks can often seem like they’re more important than they are, causing your important tasks to get pushed further and further down your to-do list. Eisenhower’s Matrix separates your tasks into 4 quadrants, allowing you to clearly see your priorities.


Quadrant 1: urgent & important

Often these are close deadlines that have been put off and are suddenly closing in or serious crises that need immediate attention. These may also include last-minute obligations that are important to you.

Complete these immediately.


Quadrant 2: important not urgent

These are tasks worth prioritising and scheduling for the future so you make sure you actually get them done. Often these are the tasks that promote achieving your goals, particularly long-term ones. Tasks may include:

  • Watching conferences for expert knowledge and advice
  • Conducting research for a project
  • Planning for the future
  • Building relationships

Complete these next.


Quadrant 3: urgent not important

These tasks are usually the bulk of what people do in their day-to-day lives. They’re often menial tasks that pop up out of the blue and demand your time. Ideally, these should be either delegated to someone else – perhaps someone who would benefit from the experience – or be automated if possible. Examples include:

  • Uploading blog posts, content or social media posts
  • Interruptions from co-workers needing help
  • Reporting dashboards

Delegate these tasks.


Quadrant 4: not important & not urgent

These tasks are what we’d call time wasters. The best thing you can do with them is to eliminate them from your to-do list entirely. Of course, if you need a break from your urgent and important tasks, feel free to take them on, but otherwise, they’re simply interruptions that are wasting time that could be used on more important things. These can include:

  • Checking social media
  • Reading unimportant emails
  • Publishing content for the sake of it
  • Sorting and organising, rather than tackling
  • Browsing the web

Eliminate time-wasting tasks.



If you use productivity tools or apps (e.g: To-doist, Trello or Wrike), label or colour coordinate your tasks into the 4 quadrants using priority levels.


After using Eisenhower’s Matrix for a while, you should start noticing a positive change to your mindset and a boost in productivity. It’ll become much easier to schedule your work, prioritise for the immediate future and handle small crises and big deadlines.



Thank you. 

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