The Eisenhower Method

The Eisenhower Method is a time management method that helps you categorize tasks for maximum efficiency. This method is attributed to U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

“What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important.”
- Dwight D. Eisenhower

How it works

The Eisenhower Method is a very simple, yet powerful method. The system uses a matrix of four quadrants. To categorize a task you have to ask two questions:

Is the task important?

Is the task urgent?

As shown in the illustration on the left, every task ends up in one of the four quadrants.

Quadrant 4: Not Urgent and Not Important

These are the tasks you should not do. Typically, they are a waste of time with little to no effect on your goals.

Quadrant 3: Urgent and Not Important

These are tasks that need your attention right now, but really are not important to your bottom line. The Eisenhower method suggests to outsource this kind of tasks to somebody else.

Quadrant 2: Not Urgent And Important

This is the most important quadrant, you should spend most of your time with this kind of tasks. Quadrant 2 tasks are often tasks that we know we should do, but never really do them, because they don’t seem urgent enough. But deep down we know that they are important and make a huge difference in the long run.

Quadrant 1: Urgent and Important

This tasks should be addressed immediately by you. However, if you spend too much time with quadrant 1 tasks, you are just putting out fires. If too much important tasks end up urgent, you might need better planning or somebody to help you.

Eisenhower Method Apps & Tools

I found two nice tools that are specifically designed to support the Eisenhower Method: A simple iPhone App, great to organize your tasks on the go.

Priority Matrix: Desktop and mobile software, available for Windows, Mac, iPhone and iPad.

Final thoughts

The Eisenhower Method can be used both in personal life and in business with great effect. It can also be integrated in popular time management frameworks like GTD, just prioritize and file your tasks accordingly.

A simple approach to use this method is to use it with the 80/20 rule. Spend 80% of your time with quadrants 1 & 2 and only 20% with quadrants 3 & 4. While this can be hard to achieve in the beginning, it is definitely possible in the long run.

So, what do you think? Would you give the Eisenhower Method a try?