Eisenhower Matrix

The Eisenhower Matrix is a time management technique used by presidents, business leaders and celebrities.

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What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important.

Dwight D. Eisenhower, 34th President of the United States

The Eisenhower Box Explained

The Eisenhower matrix is based on the above quote of former U.S. president Dwight D. Eisenhower. He distinguished between urgency and importance, an understanding that’s critical for anyone who wants to be productive.

  • Urgent tasks are things that require immediate attention. They are usually phone calls, emails, crisis and emergencies. As these activities need to be done now, they usually put you in a reactive mode.

  • Important tasks on the other hand contribute to our long-term goals which is the key to happiness and success. Important to-dos can be urgent, but typically they’re not. They put you in a responsive mode.

The Eisenhower matrix is clear framework for making better use of your time. It can be used in all aspects of your live, for broad productivity plans (“How should I spend my time each month?”) and for smaller, daily plans (“What should I do today?”).

The Eisenhower matrix consists of four quadrants:

  • Do Now (Urgent & Important) : Important tasks that require immediate attention. They help us to reach our long-term goals and usually consist problems, deadlines and crisis. For example: certain emails, tax deadline or mother in emergency room

  • Schedule (Not Urgent & Important) : Important tasks that help us to achieve our personal goals, but don't require immediate action. They are usually centered around self-improvement, planing the future and strengthening our relationships. For example: weekly planning, creating a budget and saving plan, family time

  • Delegate (Urgent & Not Important) : Activities that require our immediate action, but which do not contribute to reaching our mission. They are usually interruptions from other people and often involve helping them to reach their own goals. For example: most emails, phone calls, mom drops in unannounced and wants your help with a chore

  • Do Later (Not Urgent & Not Important) : Tasks that are neither important nor urgent. They are usually trivia, time wasters or busywork. For example: watching TV, playing video games, browsing Facebook

You'll feel a sense of happiness, calmness and control in your life if you focus on spending most of your time on "important, but not urgent" activities. Eliminating a lot of "urgent and important" tasks by planning in advance helps to further reduce stress. For example instead of waiting last minute to do your income report, you could schedule your time so that you’re done with your taxes one week in advance.

Tasks that are urgent, but not important should be balanced with your own needs as they don't contribute to your own long-term goals. If possible, delegate them to someone else. Last but not least you should reduce "not urgent and not important" activities to a maximum of 5% of your waking hours.

Books & Ressources

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Steven Covey presented in his #1 bestseller the Eisenhower Matrix, a framework for personal and professional effectiveness. It is one of the most inspiring and impactful books ever written and has been sold more than 10 million times. We highly recommend you to read this book. Buy on Amazon

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