Priorities: The Eisenhower Matrix

The first rule of productivity is to have all your tasks written down on a todo list. The second rule must then be to order that list. The Urgent-Important Matrix is a tool to decide what you work on by plotting each task on a grid based on its urgency and importance. The matrix is named after US President Dwight Eisenhower, who developed the Eisenhower Principle to help him make decisions as an Army General and then as a President.  

Eisenhower’s Urgent/Important Principle: “I have two kinds of problems: the urgent and the important. The urgent are not important, and the important are never urgent.”

Dwight D. Eisenhower

Important: Of great significance or value.

Oxford Languages

Urgent: Requiring immediate action or attention.

Oxford Languages

For each task, you will assess if it is important and if it is urgent. Once the tasks have been assessed, they will sit in one of four categories:

  1. Important and Urgent
  2. Important but Less urgent
  3. Less important but Urgent
  4. Less important and Less urgent

You can then use these categories to allocate what you need to do with each task.

  1. Do first
  2. Schedule
  3. Delegate
  4. Don’t do

Use the Eisenhower Matrix in Office 356

In most todo apps, such as Microsoft To Do, you can create categories and assign them to tasks. You will first have to set up your categories; Microsoft suggests the following:

  1. Urgent
  2. Important
  3. For later
  4. Blocked
  5. Needs focus time
  6. 15_minutes

Next, you need to add categories to each task by selecting “category” and choosing from one or more of the categories you created. The categories will then appear under each task.