Avoid the “Urgency Trap” with the Eisenhower Matrix

Only items you’re comfortable with delegating should appear there, to begin with, but once they do, they should get transfered to their new owner. These items in your Eisenhower Matrix are not essential or urgent, so you can, in most cases, erase them from your list. These are the items that are both urgent and important, and they, therefore, demand your action right away.

What Is the Eisenhower Matrix

You can simply import tasks from a table into Collaboard via copy & paste. Alternatively, you can write the tasks directly on cards in Collaboard. Check out these helpful Eisenhower matrix examples shared by the Figma community. James Clear writes about habits, decision making, and continuous improvement.

Best practices for using the Eisenhower Matrix

The Eisenhower Matrix acknowledges this and instead helps people make the most of the time they have. But because they’re not necessary, they don’t necessarily require your time, and they can, therefore, assign them to someone else. Quadrant 2 items are typically tasks or projects that can help you personally or professionally or help your business achieve a long-term goal. People tend to believe that all urgent tasks are also important — when frequently, they are not. This misrepresentation may have to do with our preference for focusing on short-term problems and solutions.

What Is the Eisenhower Matrix

Urgent and important tasks are crises with due dates — such as a critical bug fix for your SaaS tool. Also known as the Urgent-Important Matrix, it was popularized by Stephen Covey in his asana eisenhower matrix best-selling book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. It was named after Dwight D. Eisenhower, the 34th President of the United States, known for his high output and organization.

The Mere-Urgency Effect, a.k.a. Why We’re Bad at Prioritization

He is a bestselling author of Intention – a book he wrote with Wiley on the mindful application of behavioral science in organizations. Dan has a background in organizational decision making, with a BComm in Decision & Information Systems from McGill University. He has worked on enterprise-level behavioral architecture at TD Securities and BMO Capital Markets, where he advised management on the implementation of systems processing billions of dollars per week. In our all too busy lives, we often find ourselves with so many different tasks to complete that it’s difficult to know where to start.

  • Even if you have a lot of tasks on your to-do list, try to limit your tasks to 10 items per quadrant.
  • As mentioned above, this method has nothing to do with learning nifty new skills, and everything to do with changing your mindset for the better.
  • Discover and stop bad habits, like surfing the internet without a reason or gaming too long, these give you an excuse for not being able to deal with important tasks in the 1st and 2nd quadrant.
  • The same researchers found that self-described busy people were more likely to select urgent tasks with lower payouts because they were already fixated on task duration.
  • This is the spot where you are focused not on problems (as with Q1) but on opportunities and growth.
  • However, the problem comes when you focus on these unexpected or deadline-driven tasks to the exclusion of long-term goals that are important to you.
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Its adaptability makes it a valuable asset for anyone seeking to optimize their time and achieve their goals. Add urgent and important tasks that need your immediate attention and expertise to the top-left quadrant. These high-priority tasks might include finalizing a killer app feature that’s on the product roadmap and set to release next week, or completing user testing for a signup flow with a high abandonment rate.


This decision-making tool can boost your productivity by helping you triage tasks based on what’s important and time-sensitive—and what isn’t. As an easily workable task management tool, the Eisenhower matrix helps you prioritize your tasks by putting them in the right quadrants. The drive to complete tasks because of real or assumed deadlines means you take on tasks that aren’t actually meaningful to you. Given that Q3 tasks are urgent but typically related to someone else’s priorities, spending too much time in this square can feel like you are doing things you should do rather than what you want to do. Focus on Q3 tasks may make you feel like you are not living up your larger life goals or don’t have control over your day-to-day life.

What Is the Eisenhower Matrix

This will often include abstract tasks like strategy development and relationship building. These tasks don’t have deadlines, making them easy to put aside, but they are directly aligned with your long-term goals, values, and happiness. For example, batch these tasks together to complete in one sitting, or share how much time you spend on busywork with your supervisor. If you’re a manager, let your team know you’ll be delegating tasks to them so you can reprioritize your schedule. They believe they’re working on urgent tasks that are important to them when, in reality, completing these tasks does nothing to inch them closer to their long-term goals.

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How Asana uses work management for project intake

The final quadrant contains items and activities that are not in any way important or urgent. They have very little to no long-term benefit for your career, life, or health. Some examples could be channel surfing in the afternoon, gossiping at work, mindlessly browsing the Internet, and similar. Such tasks are time-bound, but considering they are not relevant to you — you may delegate them to others. For example, asking a coworker to create a PowerPoint presentation or to take notes for you during a meeting because you have some emergency work. Once you learn to make a distinction between urgent and important tasks — using the matrix in practice will come naturally.

In companies and in everyday life, we often face problems that at first glance appear to be solvable using simple methods…. These are questions that I have asked myself in my Annual Review and my Integrity Report. Answering these questions has helped me clarify the categories for certain tasks in my life.

There are numerous templates for the Eisenhower Matrix that you can use to get started without having to create the priority matrix yourself. Below we have put together a few examples of how you can use the Eisenhower Matrix. By prioritizing your tasks in the Eisenhower matrix, you can ensure that you focus on the most important and promising tasks, increasing the effectiveness of your activities. Any tasks that aren’t important or urgent go into the bottom-right quadrant. In other words, the fastest way to get something done — whether it is having a computer read a line of code or crossing a task off your to-do list — is to eliminate that task entirely. That’s not a reason to be lazy, but rather a suggestion to force yourself to make hard decisions and delete any task that does not lead you toward your mission, your values, and your goals.

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What Is the Eisenhower Matrix

According to Stephen Covey, quadrant 2 is the “Quadrant of Quality” where time spent engaging these tasks increases your overall effectiveness. This is where personal and professional growth meets planning, prevention, and action. Not urgent, but important tasks are the activities that help you achieve long-term goals. These may not have a deadline (or even an end date) so it is easy to put them off in favor of more urgent tasks.

What makes the Eisenhower matrix different from other techniques?

Or, if you don’t create a financial plan for the following year, you might suffer serious consequences such as accumulating debts, overspending, no money for emergencies, and similar. Now that we’ve explained the urgent and important distinction, let’s see how they apply to tasks and activities. We can think of the Eisenhower Matrix as a tool that reminds people to pay more attention to the payoff of their task by asking them to decide whether it is just urgent, or also important.

What Is the Eisenhower Matrix

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