Eisenhower Matrix or the Urgent-Important Matrix
The Eisenhower Matrix, also referred to as Urgent-Important Matrix, helps you decide on and prioritize tasks by urgency and importance, sorting out less urgent and important tasks which you should either delegate or not do at all. Time of crises like the current pandemic scream out for tools to help us manage new responsibilities and challenges effectively.
Dwight D. Eisenhower was President of the United States from 1953 until 1961. Before becoming President, he served as a general in the US Army and as the Allied Forces Supreme Commander during World War II.
He had to make tough decisions continuously about which of the many tasks he should focus on each day. This led him to invent the world-famous Eisenhower principle, which today helps us prioritize by urgency and importance.
In a 1954 speech, Eisenhower said, “I have two kinds of problems, the urgent and the important. The urgent are not important, and the important are never urgent.”
Steven Covey repurposed Eisenhower's wisdom in his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. He made a simple tool to prioritize tasks calling it the Urgent-Important Matrix.
Quadrant 1 is known as Do first as its tasks are important for your life and career and need to be done today or tomorrow at the latest. You could use a timer to help you concentrate while trying to get as much of them done as possible.
Think of quadrant 2 as Schedule. Its tasks are important but less urgent. You should list tasks you need to put in your calendar here.
Skilled time managers leave few things unplanned and manage most of their work in this quadrant, reducing stress by scheduling urgent and important to-dos to a reasonable date in the near future whenever a new task comes in.
Quadrant 3 is for tasks you could delegate as they are less important to you than others but still pretty urgent. You should keep track of delegated tasks by e-mail, telephone or within a meeting to check in on their progress later.
Quadrant 4 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, as these give you an excuse for not being able to deal with important tasks in quadrants 1 and 2.