Productivity is not just about time management, it’s about doing the right tasks at the right time.
That’s the key.
And that’s where Dwight Eisenhower's Urgent Important Matrix comes in - more on that in a minute.
Sure, it’s super simple, but all the best things are simple right?
What is the Urgent Important Priority Matrix?
Eisenhower’s Urgent Important Priority Matrix is a grid-like structure made up of four quadrants used for organising tasks in order of importance and urgency.
Tasks are then placed into their corresponding quadrants:
How does the Urgent Important Matrix work?
It works by sorting and categorising tasks into quadrants related to their level of urgency, and more importantly, their level of importance.
Do it NOW! Quadrant one.
Quadrant one is for tasks that are both urgent and important. These tasks should be prioritised above everything else, no matter what.
You should effectively never be working on tasks in any of the other quadrants unless all of quadrant one is complete.
Highly effective people work from here: Quadrant two.
The tasks that sit inside quadrant two are the easiest to put off as there's no urgency attached to them.
And that's what makes them a magnet for procrastination.
It's these tasks that require internal motivation, and high levels of self discipline to complete, because often the fruits of completing these tasks won’t be tasted for months if not years to come.
But it's these types of tasks that have the most significant effect on your life overall, and can paradoxically get you where you want to be faster.
Quadrant two tasks form the backbone of highly effective people, and are one of the notable differences between the Eisenhower Method and the other productivity systems out there.
These tasks are things like:
Completing and prioritising these tasks ahead of things that are simply urgent, but not important sets you up for long-term sustained happiness and success.
The graveyard of productivity; Quadrant three
Quadrant three tasks are the hidden killers to your productivity. It’s here where most people spend the majority of their time and effort - which is why they rarely achieve anything great.
Dwight Eisenhower's key to success was in delegating/automating away as many of these tasks as possible. Every task that is delegated away, means more time to focus on high priority task in quadrant two - the types of things that ultimately help you achieve your goals.
Here are some example of quadrant three tasks:
All of these tasks feel urgent, however their value towards you achieving your goals is low.
This is the graveyard of productivity you’ve got to avoid.
People who spend too much time in this quadrant are those who always look busy, yet rarely get anything valuable done.
Search and destroy; Quadrant four
You’ve probably guessed it already, but quadrant four is home to those low value, pesky tasks that just seem to take up so much of your damned time.
The biggest culprit (as always) is the smartphone.
What has so much potential as a device for mass productivity, all too often leads to it’s antithesis.
Examples of quadrant four tasks:
So, if you want to be a productive machine like our mate Dwight Eisenhower, do as Dwight would do, and send these time sucking vampires to their death.
You can thank me for it later.
Why is this method so effective?
The urgent important matrix isn’t a quick fix solution, and it isn’t going to transform your life overnight.
In fact, this system is almost more of a way of life. A way of life where you make the decision to live life on your terms, focusing only on the things that align with your values that help you achieve your goals.
Everything else gets delegated, automated or deleted away.
The byproduct of this leads to compounding increased time to focus on doing what you love, and being a productive badass along the way.
Charles Duhigg author of the book 'Smarter Faster Better' defines productivity as “making certain choices in certain ways that moves us from being merely busy, to genuinely productive”.
And that's what what the urgent important matrix is all about.
It's not about just being busy for the sake of it, far from it.
Instead it's a long-term strategy for keeping the work you do aligned with your values and goals.
Steering on a straight line to your own True-North.
P.S. You're going to love this...
Urgent Important Matrix PDF
Before you go, if you want something you can print off and start using now, download the Urgent and Important Matrix Template here >>