What Is the Eisenhower Matrix & How To Use It?

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Eisenhower Matrix

What Is the Eisenhower Matrix?

Eisenhower Matrix Definition

The Eisenhower Matrix is a task-management approach that ranks tasks according to their urgency and importance. The popular matrix derives its name from the former President of the U.S.A, Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Sometimes, a to-do list is more overwhelming than helpful. Efficiently prioritizing becomes another considerable task. 

This is where the Eisenhower matrix helps. 

The Eisenhower matrix is a popular time-management tool. It divides your tasks based on urgency and importance. The Eisenhower matrix further segregates your to-do list into a real action plan. 

In this post, let’s understand what the Eisenhower matrix is and how you can use it for prioritization. 

The Eisenhower matrix is a time and task management tool that splits tasks based on urgency and importance. 

Two columns and two rows make up the Eisenhower matrix. The columns are titled ‘urgent’ and ‘not urgent.’ The rows go by ‘important’ vs. ‘not important.’ 

Now, by urgent, we mean anything that we need to attend to immediately. And important means it carries a lot of significance to your mission

These result in four quadrants of tasks. 

These quadrants label your tasks into four types: 

  1. Tasks you will do. 
  2. Tasks you will schedule. 
  3. Tasks you will delegate. 
  4. Tasks you will delete. 

You can use the Eisenhower matrix in both personal and professional settings. The matrix is simple and can be applied to any task, regardless of its size or complexity.

The matrix principally tells you that there are only four types of tasks: urgent and important, urgent but not important, not urgent but important, and not urgent and not important. 

Once you have identified the type of task, you can then determine the best way to handle it.

You can use the Eisenhower matrix to create a to-do list, schedule your time, and decide which tasks to prioritize.

We will learn more about how to do this ahead. 

The Eisenhower Matrix allows you to differentiate between urgent and significant jobs to create an effective workflow.

You can boost your productivity and ensure that your most pressing tasks receive prompt attention using efficient prioritization.

It is also called the Eisenhower box, the quadrant matrix, the urgent-important matrix, the Eisenhower principle, or the Eisenhower method.

The main goal of the Eisenhower principle is to approach priorities effectively and eliminate distractions.

What Is the History of the Eisenhower Matrix?

As evident, the Eisenhower matrix gets its name from President Eisenhower himself. 

Eisenhower had a distinguished military career before being elected President. He fought in World War I and afterward wrote a handbook on the war’s battlefields.

Eisenhower was a very ambitious man with a lot on his plate. He was highly accomplished and managed his various tasks with finesse, elegance, and effectiveness.

Following his presidency, Eisenhower delivered a speech to the Second Assembly of the World Council of Churches. 

In his speech, he cited a former university president, saying, “I have two kinds of problems, the urgent and the important. The urgent are not important, and the important are never urgent.”

Eisenhower recognized the importance of effective and efficient time management. And that was the birth of the Eisenhower matrix. 

Building on this principle, years later, in his book ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’, author Stephen Covey popularised Eisenhower’s approach. 

The Eisenhower Matrix, as a result of Covey’s work, became a famous time-management and decision-making framework in business.

Eisenhower Matrix vs. Covey Matrix

The Eisenhower matrix and covey matrix are terms used interchangeably. 

As mentioned earlier, President Eisenhower was the brains behind the principle. But it was Stephen Covey who formalized it into a matrix. 

While the Eisenhower matrix derives its name from the 34th President of the United Stae\tes, the Covey matrix is named after author Stephen Covey. However, they are both essentially the same principle. 

The idea behind the matrix dates back to President Eisenhower, but Covey turned it into a tool. The Covey matrix segregated tasks based on urgency and importance. This further became a popular prioritization framework

However, let’s not get caught up in terms. Whatever you may call it, the method remains the same. 

With that, let’s look at some of the benefits of the Eisenhower matrix. 

What Are the Benefits of the Eisenhower Matrix?

The benefits of the Eisenhower matrix are umpteen. One may use it for personal as well as professional tasks. 

The fame of the urgent-important matrix is not valid. Here are some of the critical benefits of the Eisenhower matrix- 

  • It is simple to grasp and apply. 
  • It does not necessitate any prior knowledge or training.
  • The categorization of work into four groups is typically quick. 
  • Furthermore, time-wasters — non-important and non-urgent jobs – are easy to spot.
  • This approach aids in keeping track of short-term and long-term goals.
  • Aside from a sheet of paper and a pen, no additional instruments are required.
  • Further information can easily be added to the sorting, such as a due date.
  • The representation is straightforward, establishes order, and provides a clear structure for task fulfillment.
  • The method helps reduce stress over piling tasks through prioritization. 
  • It helps gain perspective over duties. 
  • It is an excellent way to delegate responsibilities. 
  • It is an excellent prioritization framework for beginners. 
  • Many product management tools follow the Eisenhower principle. 

Now, let’s understand how to use the Eisenhower matrix. 

How To Use the Eisenhower Matrix?

The first thing you want to do is list out all your tasks. Then you draw the Eisenhower diagram as mentioned earlier. 

Once you draw your Eisenhower matrix, you will have four boxes. This will categorize your to-list into four actions. 

They are-

Do it: Urgent and Important

Now, these tasks are both urgent and important. They require your immediate attention. These items usually have a close deadline. They may also be tasks representing crises. 

For example, a product feature that you need to release tomorrow. Perhaps, it is a stakeholder who needs your current budget. 

Schedule It: Not Urgent but Important 

Here stand important issues, but they are not urgent. So, they do not require your immediate attention. These are the tasks you’ll want to put off until later. Alternatively, you may want to do these tasks in smaller parts. 

Items in this quadrant are often tasks or initiatives that can benefit you personally or professionally. They bring you closer to your long-term goals.

For example, conducting a company-wide training program. 

Delegate It: Urgent but Not Important

These are items that appear unexpectedly and require immediate action. 

However, because they are not required, they do not necessitate your time and can thus be delegated to someone else.

For example, attending to emails from non-client parties. It could also be collecting reports from your team. 

Delete It: Not Urgent and Not Important 

Now, these tasks in the Eisenhower matrix are your time-hoggers. They’re neither urgent nor essential. They may include distractions and unnecessary bureaucratic procedures. 

For example, checking social media and taking social calls during work hours. 

It is also vital to identify unnecessary practices like status update meetings that may not require your immediate attention as a manager. 

Once you’ve categorized your tasks into four quadrants, you’re all set for efficient prioritization. 

The Eisenhower matrix is one of the most commonly used product management tools. Here is the #1 agile product management software to manage your tasks. 

What Is An Example of the Eisenhower Matrix?

Let’s move on from theory. Let’s put the Eisenhower matrix to practice. A few examples of the Eisenhower matrix will help you understand its use better. 

Here are two examples of the Eisenhower matrix. One for your professional tasks and another for your personal tasks. 

Eisenhower Matrix Example: Product Manager 

Do It : Update stakeholders on the product status.Prepare the product roadmap.Evaluate the impact of a proposal.Schedule It : Determine gaps in skills and resources.Arrange usability testing.Examine the project budget versus the actuals.
Delegate It : Define technical specifications.Study the technical viability.Plan and lead scrum meetings.Delete It : Conduct training sessions. Interview and hire engineers. Code the program.

Let’s look at another example. 

Eisenhower Matrix Example: High School Student

Do It : An assignment is due tomorrow. Study for an exam. Practice for track and field.Schedule It : Apply for college scholarships. Work on your personal statement. Look for internships.
Delegate It : Do the house chores. Group project responsibilities. Plan extra-curricular events.  Delete It : Scroll social media. Binge-watch TV shows and movies. Do other’s assignments. 


Q: How Does Eisenhower’s Matrix Explain the Relationship Between Importance and Urgency?

A: The Eisenhower principle emphasizes the importance of doing the right task rather than doing the task right. This means you need to prioritize efficiently and effectively. Thus, the Eisenhower tower explains the relationship between urgency and importance through segregation. 

Q: Why Is It Called the Eisenhower Matrix?

A: The Eisenhower matrix derives its name from the 34th President of the United States- Dwight D. Eisenhower. He first introduced the principle to people behind the matrix in one of his speeches. However, he was an avid practitioner of the method for years.

Q: What Is Urgent but Not Important in the Eisenhower Matrix?

A: The ‘Urgent but Not Important’ tasks in the Eisenhower matrix refer to those tasks that need immediate attention but may not require your specific skills or presence. These are tasks you can easily delegate to others. 

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