The Eisenhower Matrix
This powerful mental model, created by Dwight Eisenhower, the 34th President of the United States and a five-star general in the Army, helps us distinguish between what is important and what is urgent. As he famously said, “What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important.”
Important X Urgent
The Eisenhower Matrix has four parts, which you use to categorize the work in front of you:
- Important, but not urgent
- Urgent and important
- Urgent but not important
- Not important and not urgent
By using this matrix, you can eliminate nearly everything and focus on the best use of your time.
The Difference Between Urgent and Important
Urgent tasks are time-sensitive and require attention. These tasks can be anything from responding to emails and returning phone calls, to realizing you have a report due in 20 minutes.
Urgent tasks often cause us to be reactive. We’re stressed. We’re under pressure. The time is ticking. As a result, we’re rarely thinking optimally. So … we rush. And because we rush, we often make poor decisions. Decisions that will have consequences in the future and destroy our future productivity. Nothing zaps productivity like fixing problems because we were reactive and rushed through a decision.
Important tasks move us forward. They are things we want to get done, that move us toward our most important goals. These tasks are deliberate. They require focused attention.
Remember, most of us default to working on what’s urgent and important, but when all of our time goes to solving today’s emergencies, we inadvertently create tomorrow’s problems. So, let’s prioritize our time and work on what really matters.
Invest the best hours of your day on the biggest opportunity, not the biggest problem. Block off 60-90 minutes a day of your best time and make it untouchable. This time is when you create value. Schedule important and non-urgent tasks into your calendar. Work on important and urgent tasks next. And delegate the non-important urgent tasks.
So, fellow JOURNEY traveler, let us use the Eisenhower Matrix to master productivity and eliminate noise from our journey. Safe travels.