Do you know or have you heard about the functional methodology of the Eisenhower matrix? Did you know that this tool teaches us the easiest way to prioritize tasks and be more productive? Well, in this post we will explain what the Eisenhower matrix is about and how it can help you. Let’s get started.
Eisenhower Matrix: All You Need To Know
Surely you ever had the desperate feeling that the number of pending activities accumulates and you will never be able to finish them all. Well, don’t worry, you’re a normal person. But if due to so much disorganization, you miss performing a task that requires time and resources and you can’t do it, then this is an urgent alarm signal.
Why is it important to get organized with the Eisenhower Matrix?
Now you know that there is the elementary theory of the Eisenhower matrix. But surely other questions arise: How can I decide on my own what is a priority and what is not? Or how do I know what to do first if all the tasks are similar? Of course, if you are employed in a company and you have a direct superior who is in charge of giving you each activity to carry out, then do not worry.
If, on the contrary, you are the one who decides what to do and how to do it, you must impose common sense and reason. Otherwise, you will decide based on other factors such as fatigue, stimulation or the illusion of finishing the project.
To try to eliminate these variables and help us filter work priorities in a totally sensible way, specialists in productivity and work have developed a multitude of methodologies that help in this process. One of the best known is the Eisenhower matrix.
What is the Eisenhower matrix?
It is a graphic representation, in the form of a quadrant with two axes, of the different levels of importance and urgency of a specific task. This is a daily ranking of topics to run. They are distributed in four blocks that explain different degrees of priority. In this way, at a glance, you can see everything we have on the table and what we should pay attention to first.
How does Eisenhower’s time matrix work?
For you to understand better, it is a quadrant made up of two axes: one is the importance and the other is urgency. These are the two factors in which we must measure each of the tasks. We will assign them an absolute value (Yes/important/urgent/no). The combination of those two axes will result in one of the squares in question.
Now, what is importance? For the purposes of the Eisenhower matrix, those activities that bring us closer to the objectives of our task (such as planning a campaign, serving a customer, learning about a new product) should be considered important.
What is urgency? Here we talk about the activities that require immediate attention: a priority report, organizing a trip to attend a meeting, or a phone call. Urgent matters are those that act directly on us, put pressure on us and demand our action immediately.
Once the tasks have been placed in each of the quadrants, it only remains to understand what each of them means and how they should be organized. Regarding this method of prioritizing activities, we explain:
Quadrant I (Important and Urgent)
These are pressing problems or imminent crises. They are key plans for a company whose deadline is short. These are tasks that we should start attending to instantaneously. The tasks that fall in this quadrant are inevitable and they need to be completed quickly. However, you shouldn’t focus solely on these deadline driven tasks at the expense of your long term goals as you might burn out very quickly because of the stress and won’t have much energy left for your other tasks.
Quadrant II (Important but not urgent)
This quadrant is the opposite of the first. It doesn’t have tasks with looming deadlines that need your immediate attention. But it does contain tasks that will be more beneficial to you in the long run. So it might be tempting to postpone tasks in this quadrant for tasks that seem more urgent, be judicious with it.
Quadrant III (Unimportant and Urgent)
This quadrant is often confused with the first, which is why many entrepreneurs rush to solve urgent problems. But in reality, these are not very relevant. That pressure to solve them as soon as possible comes from the expectations and interests of other colleagues. But it corresponds neither with our agenda nor with the interests of the company.
Quadrant IV (neither important nor urgent)
This quadrant is the least interesting of all, and the activities stipulated there should only be addressed when all other tasks have been resolved. You can even delegate functions regarding these activities to other people or simply remove them from your work schedule. Quadrant IV consists of all the activities that provide instant gratification but leave us feeling empty at the end.
How to use the Eisenhower matrix in your innovation ecosystem
A single tool is not the solution to all of your time management and productivity problems. However, the Eisenhower matrix is a very simple tool to use, it brings many advantages and it complements perfectly with other tools.
Applying the Eisenhower matrix in practice is really easy. You can apply it to your individual team tasks, to a project or to an entire organization.