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Beginner's Guide to The Eisenhower Matrix

Prioritize your tasks with the Eisenhower Matrix and become more productive with this beginner's guide.

You have ten tasks on your plate, and one of them is from your boss asking you to create a report for the next investor's meeting.

Nervous, you pick the list of tasks at hand, many of which are urgent. There is too much to handle and too little time to manage them.

So what do you do in this situation? Do you finish the urgent tasks first? Do you pick your boss's request first because of its importance, or does it have to wait for its turn in your regular to-do list?

If this situation sounds familiar, you are not alone. We often face this dilemma of prioritizing tasks in the face of a nearing deadline, and without the proper tools, it is hard to come out more productive on the other side.

Enter the Eisenhower Matrix, also known as the Urgent-Important matrix.

Named after the 34th president of the U.S, Dwight D. Eisenhower, it is said to be one of the tools he often relied upon to make tough prioritization decisions.

What is the Eisenhower Matrix?

Eisenhower Matrix essentially helps you differentiate between tasks that are urgent from important tasks. This system is all about prioritization, and it works with a simple 2x2 matrix.

Urgent vs. Important (2x2 Matrix)

The system emphasizes the importance of differentiating between urgent tasks and important tasks (a.k.a. Quadrants of Time Management).

Urgent tasks are those that demand immediate attention because the consequences of not doing them affect you immediately. Urgent tasks are also often not yours to deal with and could very well get delegated to someone else.

On the other hand, important tasks help us achieve a particular goal that is critical to our objective, be it personal or professional.

How to use the Eisenhower Matrix?

There are four quadrants in the urgent-important matrix with a different circumstance for each quadrant. The matrix assigns a specific action/priority for each quadrant.

Here are the four Eisenhower quadrants & their recommended action (illustrated in the image below):

  1. Important & urgent - Do it immediately
  2. Important & not urgent - Schedule it for the future
  3. Not important & urgent - Delegate it to someone
  4. Not important & not urgent - Drop it

So when your boss has a critical investor meeting tomorrow and needs a deck done, block time on your calendar and get on it ASAP. However, if he needs one in a couple of weeks, use Routine's smart scheduling feature to schedule it.

If a colleague asks you to get on a call to plan a team dinner for tomorrow, delegate it. If the task doesn't figure in the other three scenarios, drop it.

Benefits of using this system

The system has the pros that have made it one of the go-to practices for productivity geeks. Some of the main benefits of the system are:

  1. Easy to understand and comprehend.
  2. Scope for further prioritization with due dates.
  3. It helps eliminate non-productive tasks.

So that is all about the Eisenhower Matrix.

Also, did you know that it is a breeze to set up these tasks right in the Routine app? Click here for a quick Routine tutorial.

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