The Eisenhower Matrix is a tool that you can use to quickly prioritize what’s most important when you are trying to decide between multiple tasks. You can apply this to one off tasks or you can apply this to systems in your business with a little different thinking.
The Eisenhower Matrix is based on a quote attributed to Dwight D. Eisenhower. He said, “I have two kinds of problems, the urgent and the important.” As a quick history lesson, Eisenhower didn’t actually use the matrix that is named after him: The matrix was developed later using his quote as inspiration.
The matrix is a quick way to evaluate the priorities of things you should be working on in your business. It is a 4 section matrix where tasks are rated as “urgent” or “not urgent” on one axis and “important” and “not important” on the other.
The examples here are just that – examples. For you and your business, some of these might be different and each one of them will usually have an exception or two. For example, watching a documentary on a company in your industry might be more important than most shows.
You can start using this matrix whenever you do your planning. Use it weekly when you figure out your priorities for the next week. Use it each morning when you decide how you’re going to prioritize your day.
Use it when you’re considering which systems you want to improve next. You can also use this matrix to help identify things you should try and do less of.
It’s important to note that your own answers will shift over time. The most common shift over time is that items that are important but not urgent increase in urgency the longer they go unfinished. Filing taxes in the US in June is a “not urgent” task, but if it’s April 14th and you haven’t done it yet, it becomes very urgent.
This is one of those tools that the more you use it, the more natural it will become. You might start out creating an actual copy of this matrix every time you do your planning but over time, you will start naturally using this mental model of prioritizing tasks deemed important and urgent without having to fill in the matrix every time you do it.
If you missed it, go back and read this week’s article on Task and Priority Management!