Quick and Easy: How to Manage Your Tasks with the Eisenhower Principle

Annalena Simonis, Wednesday 15 September 2021 | Reading time: 4 min.

Being busy isn’t the same as being productive. Don't waste your time on tasks that won't help you reach your goal. The Eisenhower Principle helps you prioritize the right tasks. Read more about the proven time management method here.

The Eisenhower Matrix was named after the former US president of the same name, Dwight D. Eisenhower, who is said to have developed this method and even taught it himself. To this day, the Eisenhower Principle is a proven and widely used tool for prioritizing personal tasks. The method is based on the concept of effectiveness. It is not about getting things done right but doing the right things first. In this article we’ll summarize everything you need to know to apply the Eisenhower Principle.

 

1. Definition

The Eisenhower method is a simple decision-making tool that uses a classification matrix to help you distinguish between important and unimportant, as well as urgent and non-urgent tasks. It divides upcoming tasks into four categories that determine which tasks you should focus on first and which ones you should delegate or eliminate.

 

2. Here’s how it works

As already described, the Eisenhower principle helps you classify your tasks based on the categories "urgency" and ''importance". Using a matrix, the four possible combinations of the two categories are divided into four different quadrants. This results in a classification of the tasks into four different categories, which will help you deal with the tasks:

Quick and Easy: How to Manage Your Tasks with the Eisenhower Principle

Graphic: Eisenhower Matrix ©InLoox

Category A: Important and urgent

Important tasks are those that directly help you reach your specified goal. Urgent tasks can’t be postponed and should ideally be dealt with immediately. Category A (important & urgent) tasks should therefore be completed as quickly as possible and by you personally.

Category B: Important but not urgent

B-tasks are often among the longer-term tasks. They help you achieve your goal, but don’t need to be dealt with immediately and can therefore be postponed to a later date. Important, non-urgent tasks have a lower priority than category A tasks and can therefore be rescheduled.

Category C: Urgent but not important

Category C tasks should be delegated or automated if possible. These are usually tasks that do not necessarily need to be handled by you personally. Therefore, designate a reliable team member to take over this task.

Category D: Not important and not urgent

The last category collects all tasks that don’t help you achieve the planned goal at all. D-tasks distract from the right assignments and are therefore considered time wasters. That’s why they should not be processed and you can archive or delete them, depending on the context.

 

3. Strengths and weaknesses

The Eisenhower principle is a simple method for self-organization. It has already proven itself over decades and is still used by many today. The simple application brings with it both advantages and disadvantages, which everyone must consider for themselves in the end, because self-management is ultimately also a question of self-discipline. The following table lists the most important advantages and disadvantages of the Eisenhower method.

Advantages Disadvantages
  • Easy to understand, no prior knowledge required
  • Quick identification of time wasters
  • Most important strategic tasks always in view
  • Little material needed
  • Simple visualization brings order and structure
  • Becomes confusing with too many tasks
  • Concrete time specifications are missing
  • Classification too simple for complex tasks
  • No information about the further processing of the tasks

 


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