Improve productivity using the Eisenhower Matrix

Oct 21, 2015 | Organisation and Productivity

I’ve mentioned the Eisenhower Matrix briefly in a previous post (‘improve organisation and productivity with this simple app’) but I haven’t explained it in detail. It really is a brilliant strategy for productivity, especially if you find yourself doing a lot of work but not really getting anywhere.

No matter how hard you work, if you’re not spending time doing the right tasks, you won’t reach your goals.

What is the Eisenhower Matrix?

The Eisenhower Matrix is a productivity strategy devised by US President Dwight Eisenhower. Also known as the Eisenhower Box, this strategy aims to help you assess and organise tasks to improve productivity.

“What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important” – Dwight Eisenhower [Click to Tweet]

Categorise, categorise, categorise

There are four categories:

  1. Urgent AND important – it has a specific deadline and is important to your business.
  2. Not urgent but important – its important for your business goals but there’s not a deadline.
  3. Urgent but not important – it has a specific deadline but isn’t important to your business goals.
  4. Not urgent and not important – it doesn’t really affect your business goals at all.

For each task, ask yourself “Is this important?” and then “Is this urgent?” and assign it a category. This could be in the form of a box, a number, a colour code…whatever works for you, but make it clear what rating that task has. I use colours for mine using Todoist.

Download your free printable Eisenhower Matrix / Box to do list here.

Eisenhower matrix printable to do list

Work on the ‘urgent AND important’ tasks first

Once all tasks are organised, you can clearly see what ones to tackle first and what ones are going to give you the best results and most progress towards your goals.

Work on the ‘urgent AND important’ tasks first. Then the ‘not urgent but important’ tasks and the ‘urgent but not important’ tasks. For the ‘not urgent and not important’ tasks, simply delete them.

To delegate or not to delegate

If you can, delegate the ‘urgent but not important’ tasks. However, for small businesses and entrepreneurs, sometimes it’s difficult to outsource tasks, mostly due to budget restrictions.

You have to evaluate whether this will free up your time for the important tasks and therefore progress your business faster, or whether you can actually manage it yourself at the moment or don’t have the resources to delegate the tasks.

If you can’t delegate, then you’ll have to assess individually whether the ‘important but not urgent’ tasks really are best to do before the ‘urgent but not important’ ones.

I’ve noticed that most of my ‘urgent but not important’ tasks are replying to emails and small admin tasks. To get around this, I schedule an hour in the morning to plough through my ‘urgent but not important’ tasks so that I can get them out of the way and dedicate the rest of my day to important tasks.

Now go and improve productivity!

Hopefully you’ll find that your HUGE to do list has actually become a lot clearer and perhaps a lot smaller (especially if you’ve been ruthless and have removed everything that won’t push you towards your business goals!).

If you assess each task using the Eisenhower Matrix and go through your to do list regularly to re-assess if situations change, then you should be able to organise your tasks so that you can have maximum productivity.

No more being overwhelmed with your task list, no more excuses because you’re not sure what to do first, and no more time wasted on tasks that aren’t getting you where you need to be.

Set a maximum of three must-be-done-today-or-else tasks a day – you’re only human! [Click to Tweet]

Remember you’re only human and ideally you should only set a maximum of three priority must-be-done-today-or-else tasks a day (these should be ‘important AND urgent’ tasks!). If you can manage more than that after you’ve done those three, then great! Also, remember that a to do list is never empty.

Download your free printable Eisenhower Matrix / Box to do list here.

AmberHi, I’m Amber! I am a website designer specialising in creating beautiful and results-focused websites using WordPress. I live and breathe business and creativity and can’t wait to share some of that with you. Read more here

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