Task Prioritization with the Eisenhower Matrix: A Step-by-Step Guide

Also known as the Urgent-Important Matrix, it was popularized by Stephen Covey in his best-selling book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. It was named after Dwight D. Eisenhower, the 34th President of the United States, known for his high output and organization. President Eisenhower is said to have arranged his obligations so that only the important and urgent matters came across his desk. Join over thousands of organizations that use Creately to brainstorm, plan, analyze, and execute their projects successfully. Using the Eisenhower Matrix helps us see the difference between these types of tasks more clearly. We’ll show you some Eisenhower Matrix examples and provide a free, customizable template you can use when implementing the approach on your team.

  • Not urgent and not important tasks are time-wasting activities that should be ruthlessly cut out.
  • These are the tasks that you should not do or just delete from your to-do list.
  • There should be no question about which tasks fall into this quadrant, because these are the tasks that are at the front of your mind and are likely stressing you out the most.

Once you’ve gone through your to-do list and added tasks to the first three quadrants, you’ll notice that a handful of tasks are left over. A long to-do list of tasks can feel overwhelming, but the goal of the Eisenhower Matrix is to go through these tasks one by one and separate them by quadrant. Once you can see your tasks in their designated categories, you’ll be able to schedule them  and accomplish your most important work. Stephen Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, took Eisenhower’s words and used them to develop the now-popular task management tool known as the Eisenhower Matrix. The Eisenhower Matrix is a way to organize tasks by urgency and importance, so you can effectively prioritize your most important work. You may need to reevaluate the urgency and importance of tasks as priorities and deadlines change.

The Eisenhower Matrix

With a few instructions and a willingness to break old habits, anyone in any field can use the technique to stop procrastination, better manage time, and increase effectiveness. Take control of your time and effectiveness by using the Eisenhower Matrix, a visualization tool for fast decision-making. Learn how experts use this elegant, time-tested framework to strengthen daily productivity and long-term strategic planning. Remember, what’s urgent or important to someone else might not be the same for you.

eisenhower matrix time management

Items in this quadrant typically include crises and issues with deadlines. One example, Covey explains in his sample Eisenhower Matrix above, might be a fire in your kitchen. These are the items that are both urgent and important, and they, therefore, demand your action right away. The availability of Eisenhower Matrix templates online can further simplify the process.

Eisenhower Matrix example

It’s essential to identify and separate these tasks from your critical tasks. Tasks in this quadrant are both important for your goals and require immediate attention. These could be crises, deadlines, or problems that need solving right away. Not urgent and not important tasks are time-wasting activities that should be ruthlessly cut out. These activities don’t contribute to progress on your goals but can end up taking over large chunks of time.

A neverending cascade of tasks and to-do lists can make it feel impossible to stay motivated. You may have an inbox stuffed full of messages to respond to and a calendar of deadlines to meet. And some days, it may feel easier to hide under the blankets and stay in bed rather than deal with the firehose of responsibilities. It is named after Dwight D. Eisenhower, the 34th President of the U.S., who was known for his effective time management strategies. In addition, product owners sit at the nexus of implementing the product vision based on the priorities of the business.

Use time blocking to prioritize your calendar

Learning to tackle these tasks efficiently can help minimize stress and prevent potential pitfalls. Once you’ve labeled your tasks by color, these colors will directly translate to your Eisenhower Matrix. Your blue tasks are your “delegate” tasks for quadrant three, and your red tasks are your “delete” tasks for quadrant four. These tasks are both important to your goals and need to be done right away. They need your immediate attention and usually include important tasks with due dates, emergencies, or important issues.

eisenhower matrix time management

The Eisenhower Matrix is just one of many time-management methods. LogRocket identifies friction points in the user experience so you can make informed decisions about product and design changes that must happen to hit your goals. With LogRocket, you can understand the scope of the issues affecting your product and prioritize the changes that need to be made.

How to Determine in What Quadrant to Put Various Tasks

However, we can spend our time on plenty of tasks with minimal impact. The Eisenhower Matrix acknowledges this and instead helps people make the most of the time they have. Quadrant 4 items include scrolling through Facebook, checking Twitter, or playing games. These tasks are okay if you have time or need a break from the more important and more urgent items, but they should not displace them on your list of priorities. Quadrant 2 items are typically tasks or projects that can help you personally or professionally or help your business achieve a long-term goal. With practice, you’ll become better at placing tasks where they belong.

Once you know how to distinguish between urgent and important tasks, you can begin separating your tasks into the four quadrants of the Eisenhower Matrix. Improve your experience with the Eisenhower matrix by following these tips and achieve a more balanced and effective approach to learning. If one person or entity is the source of Quadrant 1 tasks, you may need to find a systemic solution to prevent important and urgent issues from constantly arising. Urgent and important tasks are crises with due dates — such as a critical bug fix for your SaaS tool. There’s no single right answer to managing your time effectively.

Critical tasks require immediate attention and are time-sensitive. Essential duties have no set deadline and support long-term goals. Since project managers spend all day telling other people what they should be working on, they should apply a similar lens to their own daily lives.

eisenhower matrix time management

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 to ask for an urgent favor or request 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 asana eisenhower matrix to have him deal with the matter himself. The fourth and last quadrant is called Don’t Do because it is there to help you sort out things you should not being doing at all. Discover and stop bad habits, like surfing the internet without a reason or gaming too long, these give you an excuse for not being able to deal with important tasks in the 1st and 2nd quadrant.

The Smartsheet platform makes it easy to plan, capture, manage, and report on work from anywhere, helping your team be more effective and get more done. Report on key metrics and get real-time visibility into work as it happens with roll-up reports, dashboards, and automated workflows built to keep your team connected and informed. An Eisenhower Matrix can help product owners make sure they take care of what matters most for the overall success of the sprint and product. These items in your Eisenhower Matrix are not essential or urgent, so you can, in most cases, erase them from your list.

eisenhower matrix time management

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