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Eisenhower Method: A Surprisingly Simple Way To Increase Productivity

The Eisenhower Method.

Named after none other than the man himself - Dwight Eisenhower - widely known as one of the most productive humans ever.

His list of accolades and achievements dwarf that of even the highest achievers:

  • Served two terms as president of the USA from 1953 - 1961
  • Led programs that contributed to the launch of the internet (DARPA)
  • Launched NASA
  • Was a Commander in World War II
  • President of Columbia University
  • Supreme Commander of NATO

His efforts and extreme productivity have attracted a lot of attention over the years, leading to studies on time management, task management and more.

But his most effective strategy is extremely simple.

It's simple, yet as you can probably see already, it's damn effective.  So lets dive a little deeper.


What is the Eisenhower Method?

The Eisenhower Method is as strategy for managing your time by organising your tasks into four simple categories:

  • Urgent and important
  • Important but not urgent
  • Urgent but not important
  • Not urgent, and not important

These categories are organised into different quadrants which come together to create the Eisenhower Matrix (more on that later).

By using the Eisenhower Method to organise all of the tasks in your to do list, you can prioritise them in order of importance and urgency, with the goal being only to work on tasks that are important to you, that align with your values and goals.


How does the Eisenhower Method work?

The Eisenhower Method works by categorising any/all of your tasks into separate quadrants depending on their urgency and importance. 

Important and urgent tasks always come first, and unimportant and non-urgent tasks always come last (if not at all).

One of the key features of the Eisenhower Method is the importance it places on quadrant two activities that are not urgent, yet are still important. 

These are tasks such as:

  • Exercise
  • Healthy eating
  • Long term business strategy
  • Networking with people in your niche
  • Spending time with your kids

Unlike many other productivity systems The Eisenhower Method places a high value on these types of tasks, notably above any quadrant three tasks that are urgent, but not important.

Although these types of tasks don't offer immediate gratification, their results far outweigh their short-sighted counterparts.

This forms the basis of the Eisenhower Method and it's approach to time-management and prioritisation.


But before we go any further, what’s the difference between important and urgent?

At face value it's easy to mistake something that is urgent as important, and non-urgent as not important.  However, as you'll see there're some big differences, and perhaps this is why so many people are constantly busy, yet aren't very productive.

Lets take a closer look.


Important tasks

Important tasks are any tasks that align with your values and your goals.  

These might be things like:

  • Learning new skills
  • Writing blog articles for your website
  • Watching your kids soccer games on the weekends
  • Exercising every day


Urgent tasks

Urgent tasks are any tasks that require an immediate action to be taken.  However, these tasks aren't necessarily aligned with your values, or taking you closer to your goals.

Urgent tasks are things like:

  • Responding to emails
  • Answering the phone
  • Mowing the lawns
  • Washing the dishes
  • Answering blog comments

How to use the Eisenhower Method

So, now that you know how the Eisenhower Method works, I'm now going to explain how to use it effectively.

Now, as mentioned earlier, the Eisenhower Method consists of four quadrants.  And it's these four quadrants that go into creating the important/urgent matrix, or what's often referred to simply as the Eisenhower Matrix.

The Eisenhower Matrix is a grid of four squares.  The vertical axis represents the level of importance, and the horizontal axis represents the level of urgency.

Eisenhower matrix example


Lets take a look into each of the quadrants and see how to effectively organise and prioritise all of your tasks.


Quadrant One. Urgent & important

quadrant 1 important and urgent tasks

Quadrant one is the home of tasks that are both important and urgent. Tasks in this quadrant should be done immediately.

Examples of urgent and important tasks:

  • Filing a tax return
  • Meeting a deadline on a project
  • Paying rent/mortgage on time


Quadrant Two. Important but not urgent

quadrant 2 less urgent but still important

Quadrant two tasks are where you assign tasks that aren't urgent yet are still very important.  

These are the types of tasks that we often overlook - due to their lack of urgency - yet they're the types of tasks that have the biggest impact on our lives over the long run. 

Examples of quadrant two tasks:

  • Reading to kids at night
  • Writing blog content
  • Customer nurturing
  • SEO
  • Spending quality time with your parter


Quadrant Three. Urgent but not important

quadrant 3 not important but urgent

Quadrant three is where non-important yet still urgent tasks live, and this is where the majority of people spend their time.

Tasks in this quadrant should be delegated or automated wherever possible.  The less time you spend working on tasks in this quadrant the better.

Examples of quadrant three tasks:

  • Replying to email's
  • Answering phone calls
  • Social media posting
  • Checking Google Analytics
  • Checking how many likes your last Insta post got


Quadrant Four. Not urgent & not important

quadrant 4 not important and not urgent

Quadrant four tasks are both not important and not urgent.

The aim of quadrant four tasks is to eliminate them from your agenda altogether.

Examples of quadrant four tasks:

  • Checking follower count on social media
  • Responding to phone notifications
  • Watching the news

How to actually start using the Eisenhower Method in your life

By now you should have a good grasp of the Eisenhower Method and how it works, now lets take a practical look at how to start using this strategy in your every day life.

Here's what I recommend.


1. Start categorising your tasks

To begin with, start by categorising your tasks into each of the four quadrants.  Over time you will begin to recognise which quadrants your tasks should sit in intuitively.  


2. Start doing tasks based on their quadrant

Get into the habit of completing tasks based on their quadrant.  For example, don't start on quadrant two tasks until all of quadrant one tasks are complete.  Also, begin to delegate/automate any quadrant three tasks, and start removing quadrant four tasks entirely.


3. Ruthlessly carve out time for quadrant two tasks at the expense of everything else

Quadrant two tasks are the things that are ultimately going to get you what you want in your life.  So, begin ruthlessly carving out time for these tasks at the expense of everything else.  These tasks align the work you do with your values and goals. 


Conclusion

The Eisenhower Method is a simple, yet powerful productivity system with a proven track record.

It's not without its flaws (what isn't), but if used correctly, it can wield some pretty incredible results.

Peace out.

Rowan.

P.S. Don't forget your free download below.

Eisenhower Matrix Template 

[Free Download]

Eisenhower method pdf

Before you go, If you want something you can print off and start using now, download the Eisenhower Matrix Template PDF here >>

By Rowan Clifford

Hey, I'm Rowan. I wrote the article above that you found, then read, and we're intrigued enough to check out the bio. You probably don't know how much went in to get you here, but if you're interested, that's exactly what I teach on this blog :)

  • Janette Harmon says:

    Great article Rowan. Very well put together.

    I’m definitely going to give this method a try. I’ll let you know how I get on.

    Jan x

    • Rowan Clifford says:

      Sweet as Jan. Let me know how you get on.

  • Dan Glover says:

    I heard about the Eisenhower method a long time ago but never really gave it much thought.

    Thanks for re-inspiring me to give it a try.

    Cheers.
    Dan.

    • Rowan Clifford says:

      Thanks Dan.

      Yeah, it’s one of my favorites for sure. Hope it helps.

    • Rowan Clifford says:

      Cheers Paulo!

  • Stan Biden says:

    Great read. I’ll be giving this a go for sure.

    • Rowan Clifford says:

      Thanks mate. Let me know how you get on.