Learn to prioritize! An introduction to the Eisenhower Matrix

goal planner

Dwight D. Eisenhower is famous for his legendary remark, “Plans are worthless, but planning is everything.” As you can already guess, our team at Cloudberry agrees! But the former president of the United States was known for another thing – his strategic mind. 

As Eseinehower once said, “What is important is seldom urgent, and what is urgent is seldom important.” This quote became the base for a time management method now recognized as the Eisenhower Matrix, which was popularized in Stephen Covey’s book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. We invite you to learn about the basics of using this strategy. Who knows – it might just help you become the best and most productive version of yourself!

How does the Eisenhower Matrix work?

Despite how complicated it may sound at first, there’s nothing difficult about the Eisenhower Matrix. It’s based on the idea that tasks can be organized by urgency and importance, allowing you to prioritize the most critical work on your schedule (spoiler alert – it won’t be scrolling through your social media!)

You’d benefit from using the Eisenhower Matrix if:

  • You don’t see progress in your long-term goals
  • No matter what you do, your work is not bringing the desired results
  • You get distracted from important tasks because you often have to deal with emergencies
  • You’re guilty of procrastinating
  • You find it challenging to delegate your responsibilities

Of course, using the Eseinhower Matric won’t change your life in a day, but it can be a helpful tool for adding more structure and clarity to your everyday. Once you’re able to cross off tasks on your to-do lists, you’ll notice a boost in your confidence too. That’s because little achievements on a daily basis make a happier, bigger picture.

Making the Eisenhower Matrix

To create the Eisenhower Matrix, you must first draw a box and divide it into four squares.. After that:

  • Name the x-axis ‘Urgent’ and ‘Not Urgent’ and label the y-axis ‘Important’ and ‘Not Important’
  • Once you’ve done that, categorize all your tasks between the four boxes
  • The urgent and important tasks you will do now. Work that’s important but not urgent, you’ll schedule for later. Tasks that are urgent but not important, you’ll delegate (regardless if your inner perfectionist is screaming at the top of her lungs). Finally, a task that’s neither important nor urgent should be removed from your list entirely.

Remember – you also have a template for the Eisenhower Matrix in your Cloudberry planner. Make use of it!

Additional tips

Voilà, now you have all of your work mapped out! Well, almost. Keep in mind that important tasks will most likely become urgent if you keep putting them off. That’s why you should still prioritize them amid all work.

When making the Eisenhower Matrix, you might get overwhelmed. “What if all of my tasks are urgent?” Even if you’re Oprah, Beyonce, or Joe Biden, trust us when we say – they aren’t! Humans tend to assume that all urgent tasks are equally important, but in most scenarios, that’s not really true. 

For maximum efficiency, we suggest applying Mark Twain’s ‘Eat the Frog First’ concept, which means you do the hardest tasks first. This way, you’ll have more energy for the rest of the day. If you’re serious about bettering your life with heightened productivity, check out more tips and tricks on our blog!