It is easy to create an endless task list but only to end up in a dilemma of which one to pick first. The Eisenhower Matrix can be a powerful tool to help you map and schedule your tasks.
This technique is one of the most famous among the task-prioritization theories. The Eisenhower Matrix uses a four-quadrant matrix, the principles of importance and urgency to help adopters categorize their tasks by priority.
To help understand how this technique works and learn to implement it with Akiflow, we’ve compiled this quick guide. Over the next few lines, we will cover:
- What is the Eisenhower Matrix?
- The difference between urgent and important tasks.
- How to use the four quadrants in the Eisenhower Matrix?
- How to implement the Eisenhower Matrix with Akiflow?
What is the Eisenhower Matrix?
The idea of the matrix first originated during World War II from Dwight. D Eisenhower, the 34th President of the United States and a five-star general.
He had a successful career in the military. He served during World War I and wrote a guidebook of its battlefields. Eisenhower was a busy person with a great deal of responsibilities to take care of.
Mr. Eisenhower understood the need for an effective time management tool to help everyone gauge their priorities. So he came up with the concept of the Eisenhower matrix. Years later, the same technique became a time management tool, widely used by many professionals.
To follow the original matrix, you must divide your tasks into four quadrants and label them as:
- Urgent and important, for the tasks you must do immediately. For example: Answering a client’s demand.
- Important but not urgent, for the tasks you can schedule for later. For example: Discussing workflow optimizations with the customer support team.
- Urgent but not important, for the tasks you can delegate. For example: Answering emails and scheduling meetings with clients.
- Neither urgent nor important, for the tasks you can eliminate or leave in the backlog. For example: Test a new internal communication app.
The difference between urgent and important tasks
Although sometimes understood as synonyms, “urgent” and “important” stand for different meanings, which are accentuated in the Eisenhower matrix. Here is what each of those concepts means in the matrix:
These are tasks you need to finish immediately, and there might be consequences if you do not complete the task within a specific timeline. You cannot avoid urgent tasks, and delaying them will lead to stress and burnout.
Let’s say you’re working on a project. The client tells you to get on a call with them right now for some discussion regarding the project. You cannot put them off as you need help in that project so this is an urgent task to fulfill.
You don’t have to do them immediately, but these tasks will help you achieve your long-term goals. These tasks are less urgent, but they are equally important. You cannot avoid important tasks either, but you can reschedule if something urgent comes up.
Some of the examples of important tasks include:
- Creating a social media strategy.
- Professional networking for lead generation.
- Planning a long-term project.
- Regular assignments and maintenance projects.
How to use the four quadrants in the Eisenhower Matrix?
Quadrant 1- Important and urgent (Do)
You need to place urgent and important tasks in this section. This quadrant comprises tasks that need your attention now, has deadlines, and adds to your long-term goals.
One example of this is to send an email with quotations to a prospect that was due for 2 days. Not sending the requirements to this person instantly can hamper your business and affect your revenue. So this qualifies as an important and urgent task.
Quadrant 2- Important and not urgent (Schedule)
This section will consist of any task that is not urgent but is still important. These are tasks that affect your long-term goals and aren’t deadline-oriented. However, they are important, and thus, you need to schedule them.
You will have to get to these tasks right after you finish the tasks in quadrant one, as they need as much attention as urgent ones. Let’s say you work in the stocks department of your organization. So you need to place a stock request for materials by next week before the existing stock runs out. This is an important task to accomplish but not an urgent one you need to finish right now.
Quadrant 3- Urgent and not important (Delegate)
This section of the Eisenhower matrix contains urgent but not important tasks. At the same time, these tasks do not need your special attention or skill set to finish.
These are tasks that your team members or juniors could be assigned to finish. Delegating tasks helps manage workload efficiently while allowing your team members to expand their skill set.
Quadrant 4- Not Important, not urgent (Delete)
There might be some leftover tasks after you have assigned tasks to all three quadrants. These will fall under the category of not important and not urgent.
Sometimes, they are simply distractions. So, place them in the last quadrant and delete them from your to-do list or add them to a backlog.
How to implement the Eisenhower Matrix with Akiflow?
With Akiflow, you can quickly adapt the Eisenhower matrix. The aim of the Eisenhower matrix is to help you prioritize your tasks effectively. Akiflow’s ‘Labeling feature’ will help you in accomplishing your productivity goal.
You can label your tasks on Akiflow according to the Eisenhower matrix technique. Hence, it keeps your tasks organized and you can take a look at them whenever you start working. Here’s how you can do it:
Log in to your Akiflow account.
Add your task list.
Create labels in advance for easy scheduling. To create labels in Akiflow, open the ‘menu bar and click on ‘Add.’
To add an urgent and important task, hover your cursor over the task and click on ‘#,’ and select the label.
To add a not urgent but important task, hover your cursor over the task and click on ‘#,’ and select the label. And you can schedule the task for later by hovering the cursor over the task and selecting the ‘calendar’ icon.
To add an urgent but not important task, hover your cursor over the task and click on ‘#,’ and select the label. And snooze it for a further time by clicking on the ‘clock’ icon.
You can quickly delete a not urgent and not important task. To delete a task, right-click on the task and click ‘Delete.’
The Eisenhower matrix is a popular time management tool and it has contributed to creating and shaping the productivity lifestyle of many professionals. It is an effective method to optimize your to-do lists. You can implement this technique with Akiflow’s ‘Labels’ and get those high-priority tasks done one by one.
Sign up for Akiflow’s free trial to implement the Eisenhower Matrix and give your tasks list a makeover with prioritization.