What Is The Eisenhower Method?

The Eisenhower Method, more commonly known as the Eisenhower Matrix, is a framework that is designed to improve productivity, prioritization, and time management.

The Eisenhower Matrix was invented by David Eisenhower. If that name doesn’t sound familiar, how about President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

What Is The Eisenhower Method

Yes, none other than our 34th President is responsible for the creation of this Matrix. Though it wasn’t fully developed into the matrix we’ll introduce, until Stephen Covey came along.

Stephen Covey is a best-selling author. Famous for his book, “7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, Covey is an academic in the field of productivity.

Though President Eisenhower may have developed the basic framework, many years later Covey would develop it further into the matrix and name it in honor of him.

The Eisenhower method is so revered it has since been taught at many business schools around the world including Harvard Business School, Yale University, Stanford Graduate School of Business, Cornell University, London Business School, INSEAD Business School, Wharton School, Kellogg School, MIT Sloan School, NYU Stern School, Northwestern University Booth School of Business, UC Berkeley Haas School of Business, IESE Business School (Barcelona), and Columbia University.

What Is The Eisenhower Method?

The Eisenhower Method
NOT URGENTURGENT
IMPORTANTDO
A task that has a deadline and consequences if it’s not complete
SCHEDULE
These tasks have no deadline but significant consequences if not done. They typically bring you closer to your long term goals
NOT IMPORTANTDELEGATE
These tasks need to get done, but not necessarily by you
DELETE
These tasks are distracting you from tasks that are more urgent and important

The above table is an example of the Eisenhower Matrix. It’s four boxes, labeled from urgent to not urgent, and important to not important. Where the rows and columns intersect, the task is given an outcome.

For example, something that is important and urgent should be done right away. If it’s important but not urgent then it should be scheduled to do at a later time, as it is not a priority.

If something is not important, but it’s urgent, do your best to delegate that task to someone else since it’s not of importance to you. And finally, if something is not urgent or important, then why are you doing it? Delete that off your plate and find something more productive to do.

Like any form of productivity, there will always be times when following the Eisenhower Matrix can feel like too much work. After all, who wants to spend hours sifting through their inboxes trying to prioritize each email?!

Luckily, the Eisenhower Matrix helps with that problem because it enables you to know which messages matter most to you and which ones are less critical.

In addition, while having a checklist isn’t always ideal for getting things done, using the Eisenhower Matrix is going to give you a better understanding of what you need to accomplish each day.

Whether it’s scheduling meetings, planning out projects, or writing emails, knowing how important certain items are is sure to help you keep on track and get things done.

However, one thing to remember: although this method works really well for prioritizing our daily tasks , it requires adjustments based on you and your productivity style to work best.

There are too many other ways to improve your workflow than just forcing yourself to follow a strict system. That being said, if you want to start using the Eisenhower Matrix, try out some of these ideas to make it more effective.

Ideas To Make Eisenhower Method More Effective

Put A Date On It

Instead of letting your mind wander aimlessly throughout the day, mark down what needs to get done and leave it at that. This way, you won’t lose focus and end up forgetting about that big project that you were supposed to finish last week!

Use Reminders

It doesn’t hurt to add a few reminders in your calendar every now and then. Even though they might seem unnecessary, adding them could actually prove beneficial! If you use Google Calendar (which I highly recommend) you can click “Add Reminder” and type in whatever information you need.

For instance, if you wanted to remind yourself about an upcoming meeting or appointment, you could put a reminder on your calendar stating that it’s coming up in 10 days.

Get Creative

If you still struggle after going through the Eisenhower Matrix regularly, try creating your own matrix based on what matters most to you.

You could have 4 categories: personal, social, professional, and fun. Each category would have its own sub-categories, so you wouldn’t necessarily have to stick to the original four categories.

Practice Makes Perfect

You won’t use the Eisenhower Matrix perfectly from the moment you first wake up and start trying to get your life together. However, over time it will become easier to spot which items require action right away, medium priority actions, and long term actions.

As you gain more experience you are likely to begin applying the Eisenhower Matrix to different areas of your life including relationships, health, finances, and job searches.

Make It Easy

The Eisenhower Matrix may work best for those people who are organized or already have a plan in place for handling everything that comes across their path.

In either case, you should make sure that you don’t get overwhelmed by creating lots of categories. The fewer you create, the more efficient and productive you will be.

Focus On The Task At Hand

The Eisenhower Matrix can only take us as far as we allow ourselves to go. It relies heavily upon self-discipline to push us beyond our comfort zones and achieve greater levels of productivity.

Unfortunately, that kind of motivation takes effort. However, it’s a step in the right direction. Make sure you focus on one task at a time for effective use.

Final Thoughts

Being productive in life can be hard. But with the right tools and motivation, it’s possible. The Eisenhower method is excellent for people looking to get their life in order.

Sally-May Schinkel