How to prioritize your to-do list with the Eisenhower Matrix

June 28, 2013

Last week’s email, How to stop drowning in a sea of details, prompted a number of suggestions from readers on taming your to-do list. We loved them so much, we want to share one of our favorites.

In his comment on our blog post, Peter (he didn’t leave a last name) reminded us that we could easily apply the Eisenhower Matrix to our master to-do list. You can draw a matrix like the one here, or simply make four lists labeled:

Urgent + Important. This is your do-as-soon-as-possible group.

Not Urgent + Important. The deadline isn’t imminent, but these longer-term tasks shouldn’t be put off.

Urgent + Not Important. Put your time-sensitive tasks here, ones that are good to stay on top of but won’t create a crisis if you miss them by a day or two.

Not Urgent + Not Important. We like this category the best, because when you quarantine your nice-to-do’s from your have-to-do’s, there’s a better chance of getting to the important items first.

In case you’re wondering, this method is named after our 34th president, who was known to say, “What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important.”

If you’ve tried this approach, we’d love to hear how it worked for you.

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