The Eisenhower matrix is a special technology from the field of project and time management that is intended to help structure tasks to be carried out in a meaningful way. With the help of the Eisenhower technique, the tasks are judged according to two criteria, importance and urgency .
Definition – What is the Eisenhower Matrix?
According to Biotionary, the Eisenhower technology makes it easier for you as a user to set priorities with a long list of tasks quickly and without great effort. During the categorization of the tasks, your attention is drawn to the tasks that are important in the long term, but are often neglected in everyday life due to the daily demands. According to the Eisenhower matrix, unimportant tasks can either be completely ignored or delegated to others.
Important: The use of the Eisenhower matrix only really makes sense if you have the opportunity in your job to plan your daily tasks independently . At the same time, it is necessary that you have a certain degree of authority in order to be able to delegate the less important tasks to others.
Setting priorities: How do I apply the Eisenhower principle?
Important & urgent:
Tasks that fall into this quadrant are also referred to as so-called mandatory or A tasks. These tasks should be processed immediately, as they are of decisive relevance for achieving “the goal”. Due to the high urgency and importance, it is best to do the tasks in this category yourself (list of tasks to be completed immediately). Examples for this are:
- Customer complaints
- Tasks to be done with a fixed deadline
- Crises (e.g. technical problems with the software, which affects customer service)
- Warning letters from the lawyer etc.
Important & not urgent:
Tasks that are classified here are of strategic importance to achieving the goal, but not so urgent that they do not have to be completed immediately. Nevertheless, you will have to devote yourself to the B tasks at regular intervals, as this is the only way to get to your goal (list of tasks to be planned). Important tasks without fixed deadlines are always difficult. Fixed dates should be set in order to prevent constant postponement. If you ignore the tasks in this category for too long, they can become urgent or A-tasks! Here’s an example:
- The car insurance was canceled within the contract period. As long as the old insurance contract is still running, the search for a new car insurance is important, but by no means urgent. The closer the old car insurance comes to an end, the more urgent the search for a new car insurance will be!
Not important & urgent:
The tasks in this quadrant are not that important, but they must be completed in a timely manner. If their completion does not currently fit your schedule, you can confidently delegate these C tasks to subordinates. (List of tasks to be delegated). Urgent but less important tasks can be:
- soliciting offers for new desks in the office
- Find annual sales reports from last year
- plan the Christmas party for the current year
- checking invoices
Not important & not urgent:
These tasks don’t really matter, so it doesn’t matter when they’re done. If time is short, it is even better to concentrate on more important tasks and leave them alone (list of tasks to be rejected). Here are a few examples for the D quadrant:
- the video from the last company party
- reading funny emails
- a call or a visit from a colleague
Tips for Better Time Management at Work: Eisenhower Matrix Online Tools
a) Create an Eisenhower matrix in Outlook
Outlook offers the necessary prerequisites to implement the Eisenhower Matrix. Whether you are processing e-mails or managing the appointment calendar, the software allows you to sort the importance and urgency of the individual e-mails and / or tasks by assigning categories.
Tip: You can use all categories >> Rename to rename the standard name of the categories. It is self-explanatory that only four different colors are necessary to implement the Eisenhower principle via Outlook.
b) Eisenhower app from Heise
With the Eisenhower app from Heise, you can also optimize your self-management via your smartphone.
Trello is an online software whose functions revolve specifically around project and time management.
OneNote is another program from Microsoft, with the help of which the priorities of the tasks to be done can be assigned according to the Eisenhower matrix.
Evernote is actually a notebook app that can be accessed from the classic desktop, laptop or tablet and smartphone. Nevertheless, the app is ideal for optimizing your time management according to the Eisenhower principle.
Advantages and disadvantages of the Eisenhower principle
The Eisenhower method has the major advantage that this technique can be learned easily, even if there is no prior knowledge. No special aids are required for implementation, but the results are quickly visible. First and foremost, a clear differentiation between the importance and urgency of a task. The Eisenhower matrix thus makes a significant contribution to ensuring that you always have an eye on the important issues within your company and that you can possibly increase your productivity.
But where there is light, there is also shade! It’s the same with the Eisenhower principle. If there are a lot of tasks to manage, the major weakness of the technology is that the display of the tasks to be processed can sometimes become really confusing. In addition, the assessment or prioritization of tasks is such a thing. What one feels to be important is assessed completely differently by the other. That is why it always depends on the discipline of the user whether the Eisenhower Matrix works or is effective or not.
Alternative time management methods
- ALPS method
- ABC analysis
- Parento principle
- Pomodoro technique