Eisenhower Decision Matrix: How it Helps Task Management

5 Min Read
Eisenhower Decision Matrix: How it Helps Task Management

Eisenhower Decision Matrix or sometimes referred to as the Eisenhower Box helps determine which tasks in your day are truly important and identifying which tasks are important but should be further down on your to-do list.

Prioritising tasks is not always as easy as it sounds to learn how to decipher between urgent and priority tasks. Use these skills to develop better time management abilities to make you more productive.

Between the professional duties and personal responsibilities that many people struggle with, an organisation can be a nightmare. Employees or business owners can find themselves spending too much time on some things and ignoring others.

Avoiding procrastination, writing habit forming checklists and using time management tools help a great deal. However, you need a lot more than that. Prioritisation is just as crucial. The Eisenhower decision matrix is one of the tools that individuals and companies can implement to improve productivity.

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What is the Eisenhower Matrix?

Also called the urgent-important matrix, this productivity model is all about doing the critical tasks first. You have to arrange activities from the most urgent ones. Knowing which tasks require immediate attention and attending to them accordingly simplifies things. 

Before implementing the Eisenhower principle, you must be clear about which responsibilities are urgent and which ones are important. 

Most people confuse the two terms. Understand that a task can be important without being urgent. An urgent issue is time-sensitive. It demands immediate action. On the other hand, importance refers to an impact on the objectives. If the failure to do a task will hurt the long-term goals, then that activity is important. This premise defines the urgent-important matrix.

Why Is It Called Eisenhower Decision Matrix?

The prioritisation tool gets its name from the 34th president of the US, Dwight D. Eisenhower. He was a five-star general in the United States Army before becoming president. Eisenhower had a litany of accomplishments in his life, including forming DARPA, originally ARPA. He was also NATO’s first supreme commander, not to mention an avid painter and golfer the epitome of productivity. 

With everything going on in his life, Eisenhower managed to excel at every turn. He attributed his success to a productivity system and time management that prioritised urgent matters. These experiences and productivity skills led him to develop the  Eisenhower Matrix is a powerful tool for time management.

He was famous for saying that most things that are urgent are not important, and most that are important are not urgent. His approach to tasks resulted in the creation of the Eisenhower principle.

Putting the Matrix into Practice

The Eisenhower Box is how you can use the matrix to help with task management. It is a simple tool that allows you to separate activities, depending on urgency and importance. 

The matrix has four quadrants – Do, Schedule, Delegate and Eliminate

  • DO: Immediate Action. Urgent and important tasks. 
  • Schedule: Not urgent but important tasks;
  • Delegate: Urgent and not important tasks
  • Eliminate: Not urgent and not important tasks.

In the first section, you have tasks that are urgent and important. These are the activities that you have to DO immediately. If you are arranging your daily schedule, the tasks in the first quadrant should be done in the morning.

Your second list includes tasks that are important but not urgent. Therefore, you have to SCHEDULE the right time to handle them. They can vary from answering emails to planning a family trip. 

The third category in the Eisenhower Decision Matrix has a to-do list that is urgent but not important. You can DELEGATE these duties to other people. 

Finally, the fourth quadrant contains the tasks that are neither urgent nor important and, therefore, you should ELIMINATE them.

How Can the Eisenhower Matrix Help Businesses?

Now you understand what the Eisenhower Principle is all about. What benefits does it provide to a company? 

For one, employees will be clear about what to do first. They can avoid last-minute rushes to complete urgent tasks. Getting the right people to deal with some less important tasks frees up time for the duties that matter the most. Getting rid of useless activities like surfing the web allows workers to be more productive. They can minimise distractions effectively and avoid procrastination. 

When using the matrix, employees should remember that it’s not about the number of tasks on each checklist, but the quality and ability to finish them.

The matrix needs effort in planning, organising, scheduling, and prioritising to make the matrix work. Try to apply the time management tips below:

Tips on How to Use the Eisenhower Decision Matrix

Create a to-do list

The importance of writing to-lists or checklists is key to help prioritise tasks and free up space in your mind.

Focus on category One – Urgent and Important Tasks (Do First)

Think about using a smart to-do list and automation software.

Focus on one thing

Don’t try and multitask. Focus on one task and complete it before moving on to the next.

Avoid Procrastination!

Procrastination isn’t that you’re lazy — you can simply be overloaded and have too much on your plate and not know where to start.

Use every free moment to work on completing tasks and marking things off your to-do list.

Never spend more than one hour in your day doing something unproductive. 

Don’t over-manage your to-do list.

Time Management

Organise your time and allocate time for certain tasks.

Business Tasks / Personal Tasks.

One list, not two. Remember to also include items for yourself and your family because they are a priority as much as business tasks.

Limit Tasks

Don’t overburden yourself or make yourself feel overloaded, it can make you feel trapped and stressed.

Always complete the most important task first before adding another one. The aim is to finish tasks not collect huge amounts of tasks.

Too many tasks can make us procrastinate more!


People, phones and social media can be a great distraction from you focusing on your tasks.

Define Priorities

Do not let others define what your priority is.

Plan in the morning then works on priority tasks.


Can a task be completed by someone else?

Who is the best person for the job?

Correct implementation of the Eisenhower Decision Matrix can contribute to efficient task management. Find suitable tools to help with task prioritisation.

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