Have you heard of Dwight Eisenhower – the man behind the Eisenhower Matrix?
He was one of the most productive men to have lived on earth. To give you an idea, here’s a list of things he found the time to do throughout his life:
- Become a 5-star general.
- Serve as a supreme commander of the Allied forces during World War 2.
- Become the 34th President of the United States of America
- Launch programs for the internet, space exploration and the atomic energy act.
- Find time to pursue hobbies like oil painting.
What was his secret to managing his time so effectively that he was able to do so many things?
The answer lies in a simple tool he used that later went on to be known as the Eisenhower Matrix or the Eisenhower Box.
The Eisenhower Matrix (Free Template for Download)
The Eisenhower Matrix is a box that helps you prioritize your tasks and know what actions to take.
It’s classified into 4 quadrants based on the urgency of the task and its importance.
You put the tasks you have to finish into these 4 quadrants.
- Urgent – Important
- Important – Not Urgent
- Urgent – Not Important
- Not Urgent – Not Important
Have a look at the one below:
Click on this link to download the Eisenhower Matrix completely for free!
I’ll quickly give you a brief overview of all the quadrants in this Matrix.
Quadrant 1 – Urgent, Important
In this quadrant, you assign the tasks that are important and you cannot afford to skip them.
For instance – It could be work-related tasks you must finish before the day ends.
Quadrant 2 – Important, Not Urgent
These are the tasks that’ll move the needle when it comes to your long-term goals. This is the quadrant where many people struggle (yours truly is also guilty of it). I’ll show you in a minute how that happens. For now, let’s just clear the basic concept!
For instance – If you’re an entrepreneur, it could mean reaching out to potential investors, and consultants who could take your business to the next level.
If you’re a working professional, it could mean upskilling yourself at the end of the day.
Quadrant 3 – Not Urgent, Important
These are the tasks you don’t want to spend time doing because they aren’t important, but you just cannot skip doing them. You can save your time and effort by delegating them.
For example – Scheduling meetings is a task many executives avoid. They prefer to outsource these tasks to their assistant.
Quadrant 4 – Not Urgent, Not Important
These tasks don’t move the needle, and nor are they urgent to finish. So you better don’t focus here and put your energy elsewhere.
This could be things like scrolling through social media, watching TV, etc.
Where do most people struggle using the Eisenhower Box?
Most people spend their time doing activities of Quadrant 4 rather than focussing on Quadrant 2 stuff.
And when you focus on Quadrant 4 tasks, you’ll most likely miss out on Quadrant 2 tasks.
In other words, many will scroll through social media, numb their minds by watching TV, and do a bunch of other stuff which doesn’t help them get closer to their goals. All these activities can be eliminated.
As a result, exercising, upskilling themselves, etc take a backseat. Don’t let that happen as it only stalls your progress.
3 Simple Benefits of Using the Eisenhower Matrix!
These benefits also explain why the Eisenhower Template is so effective!
- It saves you from thinking what decision to make next. You can simply refer to the Eisenhower Matrix and decide what goes where.
- It gives you a clear structure to follow. Thanks to the color combination, you know what’s important and what’s not.
- It’s based on a fairly simple idea for anyone to implement. You don’t even need fancy tools.
All you need is plain paper and a pen. Draw 4 quadrants and start putting those tasks in there!
But wait, there’s something you need before you can get the maximum out of this simple tool.
Eisenhower Matrix Won’t Work for Everybody!
Knowing the Eisenhower tool is great.
But let me tell you a stupidly simple thing: You won’t know what to do with the Eisenhower Matrix if you have no clear final destination.
Think about it: A ship in a Caribbean island sets sail into the sea. If the ship captain doesn’t know where it’s headed, it could go either after the shores of Spain, the United States, or South America.
Knowing where the final destination will allow you, the captain, to plan out his future moves and take action accordingly.
Similarly, you need a list of tasks before using the Eisenhower Matrix to your benefit.
Only then you can decide what action you should be taking and in what order to hit your goals.
Otherwise, you won’t know what to prioritize.
Now I’ll try to answer some of the common questions related to the Eisenhower Matrix.
There are 4 Quadrants in the Eisenhower Matrix: Urgent-Important, Not Urgent-Important, Urgent-Not Important and Not Urgent-Not Important.
It’s named after Dwight Eisenhower, a man who was known for his ability to manage time well. He was the US president, commander of Allied forces, launched innovative programs and made great use of his time.
The driving principles behind the Matrix are – Urgency and Importance.
The Eisenhower Matrix is a great tool to structure your tasks on the basis of urgency and importance.
In case you missed it, here’s the free Eisenhower Template you can use to sort out your tasks.
Good luck using this fantastic tool!
Hello! It’s Rana here. On this blog, I write about productivity and self-help. I share my personal experiences and offer solutions that you can use in your life 🙂