Better task management with the Eisenhower method.
The Eisenhower Method is a great way to sort tasks to do by priority. Photo: iStock.com/cyano66.

Eisenhower Matrix: How to prioritize tasks for higher productivity

You have many tasks and a lot planned for the day, but in the end you once again did not get what you wanted to do. We’ll show you how you can work much more productively with the Eisenhower Matrix.

None of us is safe from the everyday distraction of important and unsafe things. Even if you’re already well organized, you’ll always be torn from your work by one or the other little thing. Be it someone calling, wanting to meet you or an important email.

In addition, there are so-called pseudo-distractions that we mentally create ourselves in order not to have to fulfill our actual task. To avoid distractions and implement all of the day’s plans, it is important to set priorities. “Focus Baby!” so it is called.

The Eisenhower Matrix: Distinguish important from unimportant things

Assigning priorities to your own tasks sounds good and easy. But how do you know what is important and what is not? The so-called Eisenhower principle, which was developed by the former US President Dwight D. Eisenhower and used himself, can help you here. The way this principle works (also known as the Eisenhower table) is very simple.

All things that require your attention or your action in everyday life are sometimes more important and sometimes less important.

Unfortunately, we often deal with the unimportant things first and neglect the important tasks.

So if you want to avoid making coffee again or scouring Facebook for the latest cat videos instead of doing something for your life, try categorizing your tasks using the so-called Eisenhower matrix.

The four categories of the Eisenhower matrix

Everything that is important and urgent – such as the last reminder to settle an invoice – you do it yourself. It does not make sense here to transfer the task to someone else to wait with the settlement. So you have to do the job immediately.

Category A – Urgent and important tasks

These tasks are important, urgent, and fundamental to your goals. That’s why you always have to do such tasks first. Examples of this could be, for example, meeting with a customer or studying for an upcoming exam.

Category B – Not urgent, but important tasks

This category includes tasks that are important but not particularly urgent. Examples of this are the regular hairdresser appointment, the coffee chat with friends or answering e-mails.

Get in the habit of scheduling such appointments instead of editing them directly. Even if you sometimes feel more like these B tasks than the important A tasks: Tasks in this category can easily be worked on at a later point in time.

Category C – Urgent, but unimportant

Things that are urgent but not exactly important – such as the shopping in the supermarket – you can delegate. If you should be self-employed, this point is particularly important for you. For each task, such as Mowing the lawn or cleaning the house, calculate how long you need for it and what you could normally earn during this time.

It’s absolutely stupid if you earn 100 dollar in an hour with a customer, but instead clean the booth for an hour, which a cleaning company would love to do for you for 20 dollar an hour. So you should delegate such tasks to others.

Category D – Not urgent and notimportant tasks

Last but not least, there are still tasks that are neither urgent nor important. Examples of this are reading the latest advertising brochures, games or watching series.

These things have no place in the time slot reserved for your work. So either do without them altogether or take care of these tasks if there is nothing else to do.

In a nutshell

Often we lack the overview in everyday life to distinguish important from unimportant. So that we like to waste time on things that actually could have waited or even been ignored.

The Eisenhower matrix (also Eisenhower table or Eisenhower principle) provides a simple but effective way of categorizing tasks and to-do’s according to their importance and then processing, delegating or even ignoring them accordingly.

You can download a template for the Eisenhower matrix (pdf) here free.