How to use the Eisenhower Matrix to maximize Productivity

The Eisenhower decision making Matrix, popularly known as the ‘Eisenhower Matrix’ has revolutionized the manner in which we make decisions. Conceptualized by Dwight Eisenhower, this simple decision making tool aids in discriminating the fine line between urgent and important tasks. As a consequence of this, individuals are less likely to waste time on unimportant tasks that hamper their productivity levels.

Dwight Eisenhower was the 34th president of the United States and led one of the most productive lives you can ever imagine. Prior to making it as the President of the United States, he served as a five- star general in the United States Army and was appointed as the Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe during World War II. In the midst of all this, Eisenhower managed to hone his interests in golfing and oil painting.

What sets Eisenhower apart from others like him was his ability to sustain productivity levels throughout his life. He relied on this ‘Decision Making Matrix’ that aided him in gaining a better understanding on how to effectively manage tasks. Through the years, this productivity system has gained immense popularity, with people from all around the globe trying to replicate this productivity system. The Eisenhower Matrix has also been heavily endorsed by individuals like James Clear who rely on this tool to manage time effectively.  Individuals using this decision making tool now fondly refer to it as the ‘Eisenhower Matrix or the Eisenhower Box.’ 

Keep reading to get a free printable of the Eisenhower Matrix.

HOW TO USE THE Eisenhower Matrix:

Step 1: Divide your tasks into four quadrants.

The first step in using the matrix consists of  segregating your tasks into four quadrants. The four quadrants are based on the following possibilities:

Quadrant 1: Urgent and Important

These are tasks that are crucial and need to be ticked- off your to-do list immediately.

Quadrant 2 : Important but Not Urgent

These are tasks that are crucial but do not require immediate attention. As a result of this, they need to be scheduled and completed at a later time.

Quadrant 3: Urgent but Not Important

These are tasks that are time- bound and need to be completed immediately. However, seeing as they are not important, you can delegate them to others.

Quadrant 4: Neither Urgent nor Important

Neither Urgent nor Important: These are tasks that can be completely eliminated for the time being. 

Above is a mock- matrix consisting of potential tasks that can be incorporated into the matrix. As you can infer, the Eisenhower Matrix facilitates in structuring your long- term goals. Moreover, it also provides scope to fit in the smaller, day-to- day micro tasks. 

Step 2: Urgent v/s important tasks:

The second step to using the Eisenhower Matrix comprises of distinguishing the important ones from the urgent ones. 

“What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important.

– Dwight Eisenhower

What makes the Eisenhower Matrix stand out in stark contrast to other time management tools is its ability to aid in differentiating important tasks from urgent tasks.

How can we differentiate between important and urgent tasks?

You can make a start by making an assessment if the task at hand is aiding you in accomplishing your long-term goals, visions and values. If the answer to the question is yes, the task can be categorized as an important one. 

An urgent task can be encapsulated as one that necessitates our immediate attention. Instances of this could comprise of replying back to an email, making a phone call, attending a meeting and so on.

Pro Tip: To make the most out of this matrix, ensure that you do not enter more than eight items per quadrant at a time. Make sure to complete pre-existing tasks before adding new items.

3. Sustaining productivity levels over time:

Constantly delegating the tasks into the four quadrants might get cumbersome. There might be some confusion and frustration whilst deciding which quadrant to place the task under. It may be tempting to knock off the minor unimportant tasks and dodge the more important and daunting ones. Always remember that the fastest way to accomplishing a task is by starting work on it. Make a start somewhere. 

If you experience confusion regarding the placement of tasks, ask yourselves the following questions:

  • Do I really need to do this?
  • Does this task aid in accomplishing my long- term goals, values and core vision?
  • Can I delegate the task to someone else?

We recommend asking these questions as they help in deciding if:

  • A task necessities immediate action/ attention
  • A task can be eliminated for the time being.

While the Eisenhower Matrix comes in very handy, it is not completely fool proof. Setting a productivity system is a very unique process, varying from person to person. It is crucial that you conduct a review to assess if the system is working for you and make necessary adjustments and tweak the system to make it best suited to boost your productivity.

To download a free printable of the Eisenhower Matrix, click here.

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  1. Judith
    August 20, 2020 / 8:03 pm

    Wow I love your feed

    • pitypangs
      August 20, 2020 / 11:47 pm

      Thank you so much Judith!

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