The Eisenhower Matrix is a decision model with 4 boxes. It helps you prioritize tasks by urgency and importance, sorting out
less urgent and less important tasks which you should either delegate or not do at all.
Urgent tasks are those that require immediate action. For instance, returning an email from a client would be considered an
urgent task. Important tasks on the other hand, are tasks that needed to be completed, but could be scheduled for another
time. For example, completing performance reviews for your teammembers is an important task, but it could also wait to be done at a later time.
To draw out the eisenhower matrix draw a graph and write the word “important” along the “Y” axis and the word “urgent” along the “X” axis. The first thing you’ll need to do is determine which of your tasks are both important and urgent, which tasks are urgent but not important, which are important but not urgent, and which tasks are neither urgent nor important.
Once you figure out which tasks fall into what category they would automatically fall into the four quadrants known as an
Eisenhower Matrix as shown in the diagram. So, we’ve got four types of tasks. Box one is urgent and important, Box two is
important but not urgent, Box three is urgent but not important, and Box four is neither urgent nor important.
So a quick look at the four boxes. First you always know when you’re in box one. Because it’s a crisis and it’s urgent you
have to drop everything and deal with it right away. And because it’s important, you have to spend plenty of time on it and do
it properly. Box one is a bad place to spend a lot of time in, because although you’re doing important things, you’re doing
them in a stressful way. And if you tend to get too many box one tasks, there’s a risk that if you get two or three of them at
the same time you would be toast.
Next is box two which I call the hassle box. Do you ever have a day where you work really hard all day, busy, busy, busy, and
then as you drive home you find yourself thinking, “Where did that day go? “I worked really hard all day, “but I got nothing
to show for it.” That unsatisfactory feeling is because you spent all day in box two doing stuff that was urgent, but you know
in your heart of hearts that you didn’t do anything important. You did a lot of maintenance tasks and no progress tasks. Of
course, we do have to spend a certain amount of time in box two.The objective is to reduce the time spent in box two so that
we can get more time in box three.
Box three is where we find the things that are important that move you towards your goals, the things that you should plan and do ahead of time. The objective of time management is to spend time on the important things and do them before they become urgent. So box three is absolutely the essence of time management. And we must find ways to spend more time in this box.
Finally, box four, often called the delete box in the textbooks. This might, for example, be collecting and organizing
momentos. I hope we can agree that that doesn’t need to be done.
The trick is deciding which task is which – but sometimes we get so caught up in the moment by someone Else’s urgency that we don’t even consider whether what we are doing is urgent or important and we just end up doing it without thinking about whether it should be done today, done by you, done by someone else or even done at all!