Better Decisions with the Eisenhower Matrix

"If a man knows not which port he sails, no wind is favourable" - Seneca

  • Ever feel like a busy fool?
  • Don't feel like you are making an impact?
  • Struggling to say no to things?
  • So much to do, and you don't know where to start?

We are terrible at choosing which task to give our full attention to.

A lot of people think they're good at multitasking, but research shows that this just isn't true! In reality, the human brain only pays completely focuses on one thing at once.

So how do we decide what should take up the most space in your day today?

Today I will introduce you to the Eisenhower Matrix, which helps me get shit done when I feel a little overwhelmed.

The Eisenhower Matrix is an elementary matrix because it's made up of only four quadrants.

We focus on just two things, importance, and urgency.

Just below, you can see an example of the Eisenhower Matrix. 👇

Example of the Eisenhower Matrix grid

We all have things that seem urgent but are not important.

For every activity or task, ask yourself two things:

  • Is this important or not?
  • Is it urgent or not?

Once you answer these things, each task or activity will naturally fall into a segment in the matrix.

Once it falls into each segment, you will easily be able to justify the course of action.

Examples

Urgent + Important = DO IT

This is what you need to make sure you get done today (or tomorrow at the latest) if nothing else.

  • Write a blog post due tomorrow
  • Finish a project proposal
  • Respond to client emails

Not urgent + Important = Schedule

These things will affect you long term. If you have time in the day after you have tackled "Urgent + Important", you can get to these or, if it is immediately in your schedule JFDI.

  • Sign up for a professional development course
  • Attend a networking event
  • Improvements to a personal project
  • Meet friends

Urgent + Not important = Delegate

If you have never delegated, this can be hard, and this is where sites like Fiverr and Upwork will help you get started.

And if you are fortunate enough to have a profitable business, hire someone to help you with these things. Your work can be more impactful elsewhere. Once you get someone started here, you'll see how many things can make it into this segment. 😉

  • Uploading blog posts
  • Transcribing meeting notes
  • Reading non-client emails

Not urgent + Not important = Delete

Just don't do this stuff. It might be scary at first, but you are busy! Start saying no to this stuff. You can't do everything!

  • Getting email inbox to zero unread
  • Attending a status meeting
  • Sharing status approvals

Pro tip!

Don't use the same matrix for your personal and business life; that usually leads to people neglecting the most critical thing - living their lives.

Free downloadable template

You can download a free pdf template here to print off or use on your tablet to help you prioritize. 🚀

Why is it called the Eisenhower Matrix?

The Eisenhower Matrix is named after the 34th President of the United States, Dwight D. Eisenhower; in a 1954 speech, Eisenhower quoted an unnamed university president who said, "I have two kinds of problems, the urgent and the important. The urgent are not important, and the important are never urgent." In his best-selling book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey repackaged Eisenhower's insights into a simple tool to prioritize tasks, now known as the Eisenhower Matrix.


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Avatar for Niall Maher

Written by Niall Maher

Founder of Codú - The web developer community! I've worked in nearly every corner of technology businesses; Lead Developer, Software Architect, Product Manager, CTO and now happily a Founder.

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