What is the Eisenhower Matrix


Eisenhower's matrix is one of the methods of time management for determining the priorities of tasks for the day. The matrix looks like four squares, which are obtained at the intersection of the axes "Important - Not Important" horizontally and "Urgent - Not Urgent" vertically.

Eisenhower's matrix is one of the most popular time management tools used by many people around the world: from ordinary employees and mid-level managers to heads of large companies and world-famous corporations.

The founder of this matrix is the 34th President of the United States, Dwight David Eisenhower. Before becoming president, he was a general and commanded allied forces during World War II. In 1950, Eisenhower became the first Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the United Armed Forces of NATO in Europe.

A specific professional activity constantly forced Eisenhower to make tough decisions and daily focus on various tasks. To optimize the process, he created his own method, which became widely known as the Eisenhower matrix. Today it can be used not only by generals and presidents, but also by ordinary people - it helps to prioritize current tasks and restore order in business.

The essence of the Eisenhower matrix


The main meaning of the Eisenhower matrix is to learn how to correctly distribute all your matters, to distinguish important from urgent, not urgent and least important, and also to minimize the time to engage in any matters, the implementation of which does not produce any significant results. Let's talk about how it all works in practice.

The Eisenhower matrix consists of four quadrants, the basis of which are two axes - this is the axis of importance (vertical) and the axis of urgency (horizontal). As a result, it turns out that each quadrant is distinguished by its quality indicators. All tasks and matters are recorded in each quadrant, due to which an extremely clear and objective picture of what should be done in the first place, what - in the second, and what should not be done at all is formed. All this is quite simple, but it will not be superfluous to give a few explanations in any case.

Quadrant A: important and urgent tasks


With perfect planning, this quadrant of the matrix should remain empty, because the appearance of important and urgent matters is an indicator of disorganization and the assumption of work overflow. This part of the schedule is filled by many people because of their inherent laziness and incorrect prioritization. Naturally, such matters can sometimes appear by every person, but if this happens daily, then it's time to pay attention to self-discipline.

So, the appearance of matters in quadrant A should be avoided. And for this, it is only necessary to fulfill the tasks of the remaining quadrants in time. But if something is still worth entering in the first quadrant, then this is:

  • Matters, the failure of which adversely affects the achievement of goals
  • Matters, the failure of which may cause difficulties and troubles
  • Health Matters

It is also important to remember that there is such a thing as “delegation”. This means that when there are tasks in your quadrant A that you can delegate to someone, you should definitely use this opportunity to resolve other important and urgent matters as soon as possible.

Quadrant B: important, but not urgent tasks


The second quadrant deserves the most attention, because the matters that are in it are the most priority and promising, and it is from them that the everyday tasks of any person should consist. It is noticed that people who are mainly engaged in the matters of this quadrant achieve the greatest success in life, get promoted, earn more money, have enough free time and live a happy and full life.

Pay attention also to the fact that the lack of urgency allows you to approach the solution of any tasks more thoughtfully and constructively, and this in turn allows a person to reveal his full potential, independently think through all the nuances of his activities and manage the time frame of his matters. But here, among other things, you need to remember that the things that are in quadrant B, if not done in time, can easily fall into quadrant A, becoming even more important and requiring speedy implementation.

Experienced time management specialists recommend that you include in quadrant B all current tasks related to the main activity, planning and analysis of work, training and sports, observing the optimal schedule and diet - all that our everyday life consists of.

Quadrant C: urgent, but not important tasks


Tasks in this quadrant, for the most part, are distracting and in no way bring a person closer to the intended results. Often, they simply interfere with focusing on really important tasks and reduce effectiveness. The main thing when working with the matrix is not to confuse urgent matters from quadrant C with urgent matters from quadrant A. Otherwise, a mess will arise and what should be done first of all will remain in the background. Always remember your goals and learn to distinguish between the important and the secondary.

Quadrant C matters include, for example, meetings or negotiations imposed by someone, birthday celebrations of not very close people, sudden house chores, elimination of distracting factors that are not vital but need attention (a vase or a microwave broke, a light bulb burned out, etc.), as well as other kinds of matters that do not move you forward, but only slow you down.

Quadrant D: not important and not urgent tasks


The tasks related to the last quadrant are of no use at all. In many cases, it’s useful not only to do them last but not to do them at all. Although you definitely need to know about them, because they are the “time eaters”.

Another feature of the matters from this group is interesting: they are very attractive to many people - these things are easy to do and bring pleasure, allow you to relax and have a good time. Therefore, it is quite problematic to resist the temptation to perform them. But you must do this.

In quadrant D, you can put such matters as phone conversations with friends about something insignificant, unnecessary correspondence or spending time on social networks, watching TV series and various “stupid” TV shows, computer games, etc. Of course, every person should have a rest and somehow entertain themselves periodically, but there are more interesting and developing ways to do this: reading good books, intellectual games, visiting gyms and swimming pools, trips to nature, etc.

If you can’t completely get rid of doing things from quadrant D or don’t want to, then you need to postpone their implementation at least until the tasks from quadrants B and C are completed, and the time that will be devoted to things of quadrant D should be minimized. Here the well-known proverb will be appropriate: “Business before pleasure.”

Tips on making the Eisenhower Matrix


1. At first, it can be difficult to properly distribute tasks. To make the process simpler, ask yourself the following questions: “Is this task important? Is it a matter of my life priorities? Will failure to fulfill it cause trouble?” If so, then this is an important matter. To understand if it’s an urgent matter, think about whether it will lose its relevance in the near future? If so, then the task is urgent.

2. Try to leave the category A list empty - remember that all unfulfilled plans from group B migrate here. In addition, various force majeure that you could not foresee in advance fall into the same group. We repeat that, ideally, with the right distribution of time, urgent and important tasks should not exist.

Eisenhower matrix template

To simplify the task distribution process, use templates developed, for example, by Evernote service - here.

We also recommend downloading the free Eisenhower matrix template from the link - here.

Just print it and use for better time management!

As soon as you master the Eisenhower matrix and learn how to correctly distribute your matters inside of it, you will notice that you have a lot of new free time, you can do everything in a timely manner and without rush, all your tasks are in order, the goals are achieved one after another, and you yourself are almost always in a good and cheerful mood. It's all about organization and focus.

Perhaps you occasionally notice that unorganized people are always in the midst of some strange things, they are always busy with something stupid, but "very important", they look tired and annoyed. There are many distinctive features. But this is not important, and the fact is that if you and I do not want to have such results, then we must act differently. Namely: we must be organized, clearly understand what and when we need to do, and why we do all this. And the Eisenhower matrix is great for this.

We wish you good luck and successful mastery of a new skill!